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2015, International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies

Our civilisation would not exist without the light from the Sun. Moreover, without light-based technologies we would live in a very different world to the one we know: the Internet would not exist nor, as a consequence, would the possibility of sending documents, images, videos and e-mails or using social networks on the world wide web.

2015, International Year of Light

What Would the World Be Like Without Light?

Our civilisation would not exist without the light from the Sun. Moreover, without light-based technologies we would live in a very different world to the one we know: the Internet would not exist nor, as a consequence, would the possibility of sending documents, images, videos and e-mails or using social networks on the world wide web. Nor could we watch television or have cinema or slide projectors to use in presentations. We wouldn’t have GPS, DVD players, solar panels or LEDs. The medical advances we enjoy today, such as microscopes, endoscopic cameras and laser eye surgery, would be a dream. All the activity in urban centres would be practically reduced to daylight hours, with everything that implies, and the gas and oil industries would have serious limitations. The list is endless even without touching on the latest advances in light-based technologies.

Postcard created by the students at Offenburg University
Postcard created by the students at Offenburg University ©

Why Is There a Year Dedicated to Light?

With the aim of increasing our awareness of light-based discoveries, disseminating their importance in the world today in fields as diverse as our social activities, health, the economy, telecommunications and the environment, and continuing to promote research in these areas to improve our quality of life and contribute to sustainable development, the United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies at their 68th Annual Assembly on 20th December 2013. (Visit the official website.)

Universities, scientific organisations, and private and public institutions and companies have organised events, campaigns and activities to communicate to the general public the multiple applications of the photonic (the technologies which convert light into electricity) and optical sciences, as well as their role in problem solving. Let’s look at some examples aside from those mentioned above.

In this video Carlos Lee, Director General of the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC), explains the application of photonics.

The Applications of Photonics and Optics

The photonic and optical technologies are used in the automotive industry to cut metal as well as for soldering and marking, and to integrate sensors and night-vision cameras to be able to see in the dark. 3D printers, holograms and lasers to cut fabrics, such as those in airbags, are possible because of these technologies. They are fundamental in detecting cancer and analysing cells and bacteria; they are used to treat chronic pain, prevent addictions, cure skin cancer, remove jaundice from new-born babies, and repair damaged neurons non-invasively. They are used in space exploration (telescopes) and for security (detecting fake paintings and documents). They are used to preserve our cultural heritage and they make precision farming possible (see video).

At Inmesol photonics enable us to manufacture the different models of latest-generation lighting towers, which use LED lamps to reduce electricity consumption. (See Inmesol’s Environmentally-Friendly and Transportable Light Towers and Autonomous Light Towers.)

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Inmesol lighting towers at two different locations.

The above list is by no means exhaustive so we invite you to visit the following websites to discover more about what we owe to light and the researchers who develop technologies to improve our quality of life. Speaking of research, before the article draws to a close, we want to draw your attention to a petition launched by scientists and international organisations to celebrate this International Year of Light: photonics and optics need young researchers, new generations to carry the torch.

http://www.light2015.org/Home.html

International Centre for Theoretical Physics

http://www.luz2015.es/documen/Laser%20%20Poster-spanish-lr.pdf?v=vEdcFQHLPco