While today's communications don't travel through subspace (yet), thanks to advances in materials science and engineering, vast amounts of information are sent at light speed every second. In fact, new materials enable holographic images to appear to Princess Leia-like effect. In the future, air itself may replace optical fibers, as scientists find new ways to enhance and control light over long distances.
Imagine a world where the most high-tech medical diagnostics and treatment can reach the most remote locations. Or tools that are so precise they can diagnose disease earlier than ever before and help detect counterfeit medication that would hurt rather than heal. Photonics researchers make this world real. New laser technologies reveal subtle changes in the environment and previously undetectable aspects of our universe such as gravitational waves.
Lasers are used to improve the accuracy of measurements, from time to space. Lasers also improve precision in manufacturing, where the heat from the focused beam results in smoother surfaces. Light-based devices are helping to transform manufacturing of electronics, computer chips, lenses, windows and mirrors.
Lasers and light technologies help solve the mystery of the missing professor, and help us study diseases, forests, and even art. Find out how lasers figure in the work of Waterman awardee Andrea Alù, Margaret Murnane, and other prominent researchers.
Related Websites:The International Year of Light is a global initiative that highlights the importance of light and optical technologies.
Celebrate the International Year of Light on Tumblr with spectacular images and information about NSF-funded light-based research.
Researchers at the JILA Physics Frontier Center explore light from the quantum to the MONSTR.
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