Photonics is the technology of the light, a key technology of the 21st century and one of the Key Enabling Technologies (KET) of the European Commission. Similar to electrons in electronics, photons in photonics are of high importance in various applications.


The term Photonics has its origin in the optical data transmission, whose progress primary results from the invention of the laser (1960) and the optical fibres (1970). Photonics nowadays describes the discipline and technology which mainly deals with the usage of light. This opens a new area which needs to be defined in more detail:


Photonics deals with the generation, transmission, direction, transformation, increase and detection of light. Therefore, the term is often used synonymously with optoelectronics and integrated optoelectronics. However, nowadays - especially in view of the encroachment of optical technologies in production processes – this definition is too tight. Without claiming completeness, the field of photonics can be described with following topics:

  • Laser and semiconductor light sources
  • Detectors (UV/VIS and IR)
  • Fibre optics and fibres
  • Optics
  • Spectroscopy
  • Displays
  • Interferometry and Holography
  • Quantum optics and physics

There is a wide spectrum in terms of the areas of usage of photonics. Therefore, a breakdown into smaller fields with selected core areas for a better structuring is useful:

  • Information and communication
  • Industrial production and quality
  • Life Science and health
  • Lighting and displays
  • Safety, measurements and sensors
  • Photonic components and systems
  • Photonics research and teaching

This classification is the same as the European Platform Photonics21 provides. For this reason, Photonics Austria strives for a broad content, adapted to the strengths of Austria.