Photonics Open Days is taking place on 21 October, 2014, the anniversary of the date in 1983 upon which the value of the speed of light was adopted by the General Conference on Weights and Measures.
The anniversary is an excellent occasion to organize Photonics Open Days and to reach out to the general public. The date is not related to a specific country, and the value of the speed of light (299,792.458 km/s) is relevant to all photonic technologies. The speed of light in itself is an interesting fact that can easily trigger discussions in schools:
- How many times does the light go around the globe in a second?
- How much time does it take for the light from the sun to reach the earth?
- What technologies use light?
With the right questions and simple examples, it should be possible to excite people about photonics.
R. Voelkel, CEO Suss MicroOptics shows Carlos Lee a microoptical light homogonizer used in the MO Exposure Optics illumination system for a MA 300 mask aligner.
Photonics in everyday lives
To make an impression on the significance of photonics, it's important to let people know the impact that photonics have in our everyday lives. Here are just a few examples of where photonics is making a difference:
- Lighting: the Philips Hue allows you to change the colour of your light bulb using your iPhone.
- Energy savings: An LED light bulb consumes 4 times less energy than a traditional incandescent light bulb.
- Energy generation: A special film coating can enable solar energy to be produced from ordinary windows
- Connectivity: Fibre to the home allows for super-fast access to the internet.
- Security: Motion detectors and security cameras provide peace of mind.
- Automation: Sensors in garage-door openers prevent closing when obstructed.
Repeating the word “Photonics”
Although our industry is very much technology driven, it is important to promote photonics toward the general public, public authorities, students, financial investors and other stakeholders at large. People are increasingly aware of technologies such as photovoltaic, LED lighting, fibre for broadband internet, lasers in cosmetic applications, but do not yet make the connection to the umbrella term of photonics. Therefor a collective initiative at the large scale to promote the term “Photonics” is needed. And one time will not be enough, it will need to be repeated. Just like a sales man, it will require knocking on the same door many times, but perseverance will result in the photonics industry being recognised at the same level as the electronics industry.
The concept of “Open Days” means that it is a day when the public may visit companies to which they do not usually have access. It is also an opportunity to invite students, friends and families. The main advantage of an initiative at the international level is to get the attention of general media such as television and newspapers who have a wide reach. Therefore the need for a collective initiative supported by all the actors of the industry--large, small and even very small.
Visiting companies is always interesting and exciting, but the language needs to be adapted when discussing with non-technical people. My recommendation is to focus on the applications, and explain how your technology enables final products that benefits the consumer and society at large.
Is your company developing or incorporating photonics technologies? I hope you will support the initiative, spread the word, tweet it, share it on linkedin, and finally register on EPIC’s Open Days website.
Photo at top: EPIC's Carlos Lee (right) inspects a 4-inch ZnO wafer produced at Nanovation. Ferechteh H. Teherani (CEO, Nanovation) is pictured on the left.
Written by Carlos Lee, Director General, European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC).