What is "Photonics"?

Photonics vs. Optics

Optics and photonics are often used interchangeably, although their meaning can vary depending on the context. In fact, an ongoing debate among experts has yet to find a conclusion on what the exact differences are [1]. Here is our take on it: "optics" often refers to the classical concept of light rays, the study of vision, and the transmission, reflection, and absorption of light in different media [2]. In contrast, "photonics" emphasizes the quantum mechanic dual character of light, in particular the "quanta" of light (the photons!) [3]; moreover, it also often refers to the technologies and the industry that involve optics and optical instruments [2].

This, of course, is only a brief summary of online sources, and one could discuss in length more details. If you want to share your thoughts, send us an email!


[1] Optics.org: Optics or photonics: what’s in a name? http://optics.org/article/32348 accessed: 2011-08-30.

[2] New Oxford American Dictionary, accessed: 2011-08-30.

[3] Wikipedia: Photonics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photonics accessed: 2011-08-30.