Aug 9 2007
This article was updated on the 11th September 2019.
Fernando Cortes / Shutterstock
If you were to ask the average person how optics advancements enhance our modern lifestyles, they may be able to tell you about how their new bifocal spectacles help their reading. But, the bigger picture of optics is much greater in scope than simple lenses in a frame.
The scientific fields of optics and photonics are highly specialized sub-branches of physics and engineering. They incorporate a range of applications from telecommunications through to advanced medical imaging and are part of everyday life. Without modern optics, we would not be able to do simple tasks we take for granted from driving at night to using a computer or talking on the telephone.
Some of the areas in which optics and photonics have changed our lives include:
- Medicine - optics and photonics are incorporated into various medical devices and imaging equipment like mammogram devices, CAT, MRI and PET scans
- Telecommunications - modern high speed voice and data communications (traditional copper wires are incapable of providing the data transfer rates possible with fiber optics)
- Industrial and Military Applications - many areas of modern industry and defense are reliant upon optics and photonics technologies, ranging from optical sensors and detectors to weapons and weapons guidance systems, much of which is related to laser technologies.
- Consumer goods - LCD flat screen, plasma televisions, handheld game devices, PDAs, digital cameras, energy efficient lighting and halogen cooktops are all in modern homes thanks to developments in optics and photonics.