Light is everywhere. It is one of our fundamental senses through which we see and interpret the world. Light is the source of energy on which almost all life depends. Light comes in a rainbow of colours extending far beyond what we can see. Yet light can be easily generated in many forms from the laser to the light bulb, it can be processed, controlled, detected and sensed. Light can be used to both display information and interact with the world around us, remotely, without contact and practically instantaneously. Nothing travels faster than the speed of light.
The impact of photonics, the technologies of light, is therefore everywhere. The very ubiquitous nature of light means it is often taken for granted, yet light is behind much of what makes modern society what it is today.
It is light that powers the internet delivering data globally and the continued growth of the digital economy depends on further photonics innovation illustrated in the opportunities within next generation data centres
Light is being used to diagnosis disease, enable key hole surgery and in treatment with the latest innovations helping to deliver efficient modern healthcare.
Simultaneously raising manufacturing productivity and quality with digital manufacturing relies on lasers to cut, join, mark and label and machine vision to monitor quality and control production.
Safely, driving, flying and training all need cars, planes, boats and trains to be ‘see’ what is around them, react to changes in the surroundings. Autonomous transport of any type is only as good as the ability to visualise changes in the surroundings in real time- only achievable with photonic sensor cameras and lasers.
Our security needs our police and defence forces to detect, communicate and respond to threats as they appear requirements ideally suited to photonics technology.
The results a photonics industry which manufactures £13.5bn of products and services annually in the UK. Our reputation for leading photonics innovation means UK producers frequently export over 75% if not all of their output. Yet the impact in enabling other products is much higher, with 10-20% of the economy dependent on photonics to keep it competitive