Photonics is the science and technology of generating and controlling light, and, in particular, using light to carry information. The name is derived from the fundamental information carrier - the photon. The science and applications of photonics are usually based on laser light. Polaritonics differs with photonics in that the fundamental information carrier is a phonon-polariton, which is an admixture of photons and phonons, and operates in the range of frequencies from 300 terahertz to approximately 10 terahertz. Photonics typically operates at frequencies on the order of hundreds of terahertz.
The science of photonics includes the emission, transmission, amplification, detection, modulation, and switching of light. List of photonic devices includes lasers, LEDs, fiber optics, and photonic crystals. Applications of photonics range from light detection to communications and information processing.
Photonics as a science is closely related to quantum optics with a somewhat unclear boundary: fundamental research tends to be called quantum optics, and photonics is rather application related research (especially such trying to establish an electronics with photons instead of electrons -- hence the name).
One of the most important discoverys in Photonics to date is the photonic crystal fibre (PCF). This fibre optic cable is designed using photonic technology and is virtually lossless. The first example of a working PCF was reported by Jonathan Knight, Tim Birks and Philip Russell in 1996, members of the PPMG at the University of Bath, UK.
See also: Microphotonics
Last updated: 05-17-2005 03:40:25