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International Year of Light 2015

In 2013, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light Based Technologies (IYL 2015). In doing so, the UN recognized the importance of raising global awareness of the role of light based technologies in a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable world. Throughout the year, Novus Light Technologies Today reported on many of the key events held around the world as part of IYL 2015, all raising awareness light sciences and its applications that cross new frontiers into the future. Here is just a sampling from of the light-based events that took place around the globe:

New Zealand

In September New Zealand celebrated spring and the return of light in a festival called Te Kōanga, which means “spring” in Māori.

IYL New Zealand

The festival brought the magic of light to school children and others with lectures and hands-on activities with an aim of opening students’ eyes to the emerging opportunities in photonics. As a part of the celebration, over 4500 “Light Matters” kits were given to school children to take home. Each kit includes brain teasers, puzzles and an LED-based beacon with a code, that, when activated via the Illuminating NZ’s online experiment bank, lights up a map of New Zealand.


Throughout the year, schools, research centers and exhibition halls in Hungary have held activities at hundreds of locations. For example, the Roland Eötvös Physical Society  conducted experiments such as the “walking rainbow” and other shows in a series called “Physics—we all own it.” In another event, a Light Relay was held in which a light signal sparked from Szeged was passed through fifteen towns, drawing a huge circular path before returning to its point of origin. All of these events were designed to bring attention to the five main pillars of the year: Science, education, industry, arts and international relations.


A carnival was held in Concepcion, Chile to highlight the importance of light in our lives.

Chile IYL

Just a few of the events included in the festival was a Cyclothon, in which researchers gave tours through the Universidad de Concepcion to explain details about light, a luminescent garden with 350 “flowers of light” planted on the campus, graffiti with light where visitors could create his or her own graffiti using light, 500 LED balloons created magic, light-filled space on the campus.


In Spain, an art exhibition “Sorolla, The art of light” presented 54 oil paintings related to the use of illumination. Sorolla was a Spanish artist who was called the “Painter of Light,” and the exhibition guides the viewer through a transitioning way of seeing light through his paintings including “towards the light”, “shadow and reflection”, “filtered light”, “shining” and “art of light.”


At the School of Physics at The National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway, events were organized around Galway’s own “PhotonicSplash,” intended to showcase the importance of photonics in our lives. 

Ireland IYL

In the GoPhoton! Initiative, children, schools and the general public learned through live demonstrations how android smartphones and tables can be used to monitor heart rate as well as detect embarrassment.  There was also a demonstration of the Laser Harp show by Britain’s Got Talent 2012 Semi Finalist, Greig Stewart.


In Malaysia a celebration was held in recognition of the contributions of Ibn al Haytham and other scholars in the field of optics and light-based technologies. During the opening ceremony, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation, USM, Professor Dato’ Dr. Muhamad Jantan mentioned the light-based initiative taken by CRI Natural Sciences for its exchange of valuable findings in the field of III-nitrides semiconductors, which have important applications in optoelectronic devices such as light emitting diodes (LEDs) for solid-state lighting as well as power electronic devices. 

Saudi Arabia

To celebrate the International Year of Light, Mishkat Interactive Center for Atomoic and Renewable Energy in Saudi Arabia organized the festival “Noor”, which offered a unique opportunity to see light from a new perspective and to explore it first-hand.

Saudi Arabia IYL

Mishkat Interactive Center is an initiative of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, with the main objective to inspire and motivate new generations to be energy pioneers in the future. Thus, Mishkat Interactive Center aimed through the festival of light to raise awareness in the society about light science and techniques, and its importance in facing the challenges of energy and sustainable development.


In September Ghana celebrated the Year of Light with the African Regional Conference “Harnessing Light and Light-Based Technologies for Africa’s Development”. The conference sought to promote dialog to highlight the relevance of light in the sciences, arts, culture and the humanities. It also served to promote the central role of light in enhancing many opportunities for the welfare of humankind.


The legacy of renowned Egyptian actor Omar Sharif is celebrated at the 12th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) through the world premiere screening of his last film, ‘1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham’.

Dubai IYL

The film is officially endorsed by the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 and will be part of an Ibn Al-Haytham global campaign by 1001 Inventions in partnership with UNESCO that includes exhibits, books, live shows and learning materials.

South America

To celebrate the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015, the science outreach project, GalileoMobile, held the Constellation Programme, which comprised the creation of a network of 20 schools across six countries in South America. The event allowed them to share their innate fascination with the sky through hands-on activities and fun experiments.

United Kingdom

The Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies together with the Library of Birmingham and Flatpack Film Festival hosted the Lightfest science festival — an interactive science exhibition exploring the science of light — in Birmingham (UK) to celebrate Aston University’s forthcoming 50th anniversary and the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015.

United Kingdom IYL

Over 12,000 attendees were treated to more than 30 unique demonstrations involving light science were presented, such as an animated LED cube, laser cutters, holograms making and light painting workshops and other games.


Within the framework of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, a series of events is organized by the Institute of Physics in Germany. A concert called “Light and Colour in Music” aimed at bringing to the audience’s attention the relation between music on one hand, and light and colour on the other; this was exemplified by the works of the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin.


At the French National Science Festival 2015, the International Year of Light was celebrated with events organized by LUX!.

France IYL

Bringing together scientists, young people and the general public, the events promoted new opportunities to discover the different fields related to light. During the events, 13,000 people enjoyed scientific experiments, performances, installations, concerts, lectures, guided tours and a “light ride” with bicycles

United States

The National Science Foundation in conjunction with the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the IEEE Photonics Society, the National Academy of Sciences and the Optical Society and the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) organized a series of events to celebrate the International Year of Light in the United States. These included Family Science Fun at the Smithsonian and Light for a Better World at the National Academy of Sciences. The events were intended to promote improved public understanding of the central role of light in the modern world.

Light-based technologies in tomorrow’s world

The UN-proclaimed International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies comes to a close on 31 December in most countries around the world (France has opted to extend it into 2016).

Novus Light Technologies Today, however, will continue with its mission to highlight the significance of light and light-based technologies in making tomorrow’s world a better place through the many innovations in healthcare, security, renewable energy, sustainability and more.

Written by Anne Fischer, Managing Editor, Novus Light Technologies Today

Labels: International Year of Light and Light Based Technologies 2015,IYL,IYOL,United Nations,Anne Fischer

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