The International Year of Light in Europe 2015 (LIGHT2015) project is an outreach and education initiative that aims to promote the importance of photonics to young people, entrepreneurs and the general public in Europe during the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015).
The project, coordinated by the European Physical Society (EPS), will leverage the tremendous visibility of IYL 2015 to ensure that the public in all member states of the EU understand and appreciate the importance that photonics has on society. LIGHT2015 is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme.
The project LIGHT2015 is structured in terms of three broad objectives:
- Explain Photonics: 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.
- Inspire People: Inspire a new generation of young scientists using Photonics with hands-on training and through smartphone photonics experiments to promote the excitement of photonic science.
- Network Europe: Strengthen networking and collaborations across societies in Europe to promote the EU as the World Hub of Photonics.
Running from January 2015 until June 2016, the project plans a full twelve months of activities overlapping with the global IYL 2015, but an additional period of six months will allow further dissemination, and will indeed build upon the interest in photonics generated in 2015 to plan additional outreach events in 2016.
The activities comprised in LIGHT2015 will include the LIGHTtalks events. These events, originating as part of the GoPhoton project, are a series of inspirational talks that will take place in different European cities in order to bring photonics closer to students and entrepreneurs in the local communities. A specific series of LIGHTtalks events targeted to local industry and entrepreneurs, will take place during the weekend 25-28 September 2015 to leverage on the international “100 Hours / Weekend of Light” of the global IYL 2015 programme.
Another highlight of LIGHT2015 will be a EU-wide community experiment on smartphone photonics where thousands of participants will carry out optical measurements of the sky to yield information related to air pollution. The event will be also held during the IYL 2015 Weekend of Light and will be one the largest-ever citizen science experiment of its kind.
Moreover, LIGHT2015 plans to distribute Photonics educational kits to schools and train around 250 teachers on 10 European countries to support the scientific education at secondary schools. It is expected that around 12,500 students will use the Photonics Explorer kits during 2015.
In addition, LIGHT2015 will design and support a special event during the Laser Munich World of Photonics Congress, the largest photonics congress in the world, from 22 to 25 June 2015. The event will focus especially on networking to bring together students and the communities of science and industry.
LIGHT2015 brings together a multi-stakeholder partnership, including the European Physical Society (EPS), the European Optical Society (EOS), the Institute of Photonics Sciences (ICFO) (Spain), the Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI) (Italy), the National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland), Universiteit Leiden (the Netherlands), and EYESTvzw (Belgium). This Consortium assembles leading European researchers in both fundamental and applied photonics (all partners) researchers with close industry links (EOS), and EU-wide networks of outreach and education in optical science (EPS, EOS, EYEST) and unique expertise in implementation of hands-on photonics outreach and education (Universiteit Leiden, EYESTvzw). It also contains a Founding Partner of the IYL 2015 initiative (EPS).
The presence of these key players in LIGHT2015 will ensure coordination and communication between LIGHT2015 and other outreach activities in photonics funded by the European Commission that will also take place during 2015, such as the projects GoPhoton! and Photonics4All.
European research and industry in photonics is world-leading, and through the Framework Programmes, Horizon2020 and Photonics21, the European Commission has very strongly supported the European photonics community to achieve this position. Funding outreach programmes such as LIGHT2015, GoPhoton! and Photonics4All show the Commission's continued prioritization of the photonics sector, and its appreciation of the importance of engaging with the public, future entrepreneurs and young people to ensure future growth and success in this extremely important key enabling technology.