Electronics and Photonics

Digital revolution

The rise of electronics and photonics

Over the past five decades a steady increase in both the quantity and capability of electronic and photonic components that we may interact with on a daily basis has occurred. A stroll through an airport departure terminal at nearly any time of year effectively demonstrates that point. People may be observed communicating with other by cell phone, working on laptop computers, or checking the time on digital watches. Children surround tablets to watch their favorite computer-animated movie, while others play with miniature hand-held video games as their parents listen to music from pocket-sized MP3 players.

Clearly the information age, that some believe began its steady rise with the demonstration of a solid state electronic component in a New Jersey laboratory in December of 1947, has now become a global phenomenon. Electronic computer systems that occupied large rooms and used massive amounts of power were once accessible only to large business concerns or to government entities. Present day computer systems with greater functionality run for hours on sets of rechargeable batteries and fit nicely on a person’s lap.

Electronic and photonic components constitute and support a major portion of the global economy and strongly contribute to the effectiveness of business, education, healthcare, and entertainment sectors.

Moving forward

Electronic and photonic devices and systems have developed into a dominant global industry over the past 50 years. As we move forward, the structures and materials used to manufacture devices and systems will likely change significantly from those that have supported this revolution until now.