Photonics components rule

July 10, 2017
In terms of global markets and impact, photonics systems represent enormous value, from optical communications networks to industrial laser processing or bioimaging equipment.
Conard Holton2 5f3bf2a9f1c9e

In terms of global markets and impact, photonics systems represent enormous value, from optical communications networks to industrial laser processing or bioimaging equipment. And these systems drive even further value in the businesses that rely on them, including the Internet economy, and the transportation and healthcare sectors.

And yet, from our perspective, so much of this value arises from active and passive photonics components developed through decades of research and then integration into systems (and in the case of some optical communications components, repurposed for other applications). The components are relatively small and inexpensive—but they are mighty.

Our cover story on a low-cost bandpass filter array, for example, explains how a simple-seeming, passive component, combined with a silicon detector, may enable the ubiquitous smartphone to act as a shortwave near-infrared spectrometer, revealing a vast world of information and enabling yet more applications ranging from food safety and security to environmental sensing (see page 21). The mid-infrared (mid-IR) is also revealing its secrets with the help of active components such as mid-IR LEDs, which can play a critical role as low-cost sensing nodes in the growing Internet of Things (see page 30).

And quantum-cascade lasers (QCLs), the high-power source in the mid-IR, has reached a stage of maturity where we can be discussing "interesting technical innovations" to an already substantial portfolio of QCL products from several companies (see page 23). Finally, performance of the workhorse photodetector can be significantly improved with the help of graphene and related materials, to the point where the photodetector can act as a hyperspectral imager from the visible to the shortwave-infrared (see page 42).

So the view from within the photonics community remains the same: components will continue to have an impact on society that far exceeds their modest size.

About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Sponsored Recommendations

Optical Power Meters for Diverse Applications

April 30, 2024
Bench-top single channel to multichannel power meters, Santec has the power measurement platforms to meet your requirements.

Request a quote: Micro 3D Printed Part or microArch micro-precision 3D printers

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a Micro 3D Printed Benchmark Part: Send us your file.

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!