Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons. It underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones to laptops to the Internet to medical instruments to lighting technology. Businesses in the field of photonics and light-based technologies work on solving key societal challenges, such as energy generation and energy efficiency, healthy ageing of the population, climate change, and security. Photonic technologies have major impact on the world economy with a current global market of €300 billion and projected market value of over €600 billion in 2020. But most people around the world has no idea about what Photonics is. Therefore global initiatives such as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015) are of vital importance to bring Photonics closer to society.
Three European projects – GoPhoton!, Photonics4All and LIGHT2015 – share these goals to make Photonics a household word. Their aim is to raise awareness among the public, young people and entrepreneurs of what Photonics is, and how and why Photonics is an essential technology of the future. They want to inspire a new generation of young scientists using Photonics with hands-on activities to promote the excitement of Photonic science and to strengthen networking and collaborations across societies in Europe to promote the EU as the World Hub of Photonics.
The Photonics Explorer is an intra-curricular educational kit designed to engage, excite and educate students about the fascination of working hands-on with light and optics in the classroom. The kit was developed within an EU project. Since November 2011, EYESTvzw is responsible for the assembly and mass distribution, and for supporting teachers in our endeavour to convey the fascination of science and engineering to pupils. The aim is to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers by distributing Photonics Explorer kits.
Girls are communicating with light at a workshop in the Atomium. Credit:EYEST vzw.
Founded in 2005 the European Technology Platform Photonics21 today represents more than personal 2,500 members from all over Europe. Our members are experts of the photonics industry, research organizations and universities and voluntarily engage in Photonics21 to develop a joint European photonics strategy for future research and innovation to establish Europe as leader in the development and deployment of photonics technologies. Photonics21 also closely cooperates with its colleagues of national photonics technology platforms throughout Europe to further raise awareness for photonics and to strengthen the photonics sector on European and national level.
The European photonics community operates in seven Photonics21 work groups (WG) to discuss about future photonics research and innovation needs. Credit: Photonics21.
With the help of a special projector an artificial night sky with the planets and fixed stars is projected onto a white inner dome. The Zeiss-Planetarium in Jena, Germany, is the oldest continuously operating planetarium in the world. Thanks to new projection technology and 3D-Sound-System, it is also one of the world’s most modern planetariums. It was opened on 18 July 1926. The diameter of the dome is 23 meters and the total projection area covers 900 square meters.
ZEISS Planetarium in Jena, Germany. Credit: Sternevent GmbH.
In Spanish, “alba” refers to the first appearance of daylight in the morning. But now, ALBA is something more. ALBA is the only synchrotron light source built in Spain, which is giving service to more than 1,000 researchers every year in the academic and industrial sectors.
Aerial view of the ALBA Synchrotron, located in Cerdanyola del Vallès (Barcelona). Credit: ALBA