History of Photonics
The word 'photonics' is derived from the Greek word "photos" meaning light; it appeared in the late 1960s to describe a research field whose goal was to use light to perform functions, that traditionally fell within the typical domain of electronics, such as telecommunications, information processing, etc.
Photonics as a field began with the invention of the laser in 1960. Other developments followed: including the laser diode in the 1970s, optical fibers for transmitting information, and the Erbium-doped fiber amplifier. These inventions formed the basis for the telecommunications revolution of the late 20th century and provided the infrastructure for the Internet.
Though coined earlier, the term photonics came into common use in the 1980s as fiber-optic data transmission was adopted by telecommunications network operators. At that time, the term was used widely at Bell Laboratories. Its use was confirmed when the IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society established an archival journal named Photonics Technology Letters at the end of the 1980s.
During the period leading up to the dot-com crash circa 2001, photonics as a field focused largely on telecommunications. However, photonics covers a huge range of science and technology applications, including: laser manufacturing, biological and chemical sensing, medical diagnostics and therapy, display technology, and optical computing.
Various non-telecom photonics applications exhibit strong growth, particularly since the dot-com crash, partly because many companies have been looking for new application areas. Further growth of photonics is likely if current silicon photonics developments are successful.
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