History of technology based on Light

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[vc_message icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-pencil”]Teacher: Nur Abdillah Siddiq
Summary: this article discusses the history of the light-based technologies, starting with pioneers in the field of light scientists, communication tools that utilize light, to an explanation of why a light-based technology is absolutely essential.  [/vc_message]


Ibn al-Haytham-one of the pioneers of optical field scientists who came from Egypt

The oldest paper on light published by mathematician and philosopher Empedocles as Greece (490-430 BC) and Euclid (300 BC). Empedocles had the idea that we can see objects because the eyes emit light and the light on the object, it is much like a flashlight or laser. Although wrong, this idea became the basis for Euclid to formulate some theories important in light, vision, and optics. However the paper bouquet two authors more philosophical than scientific impressed.

Meanwhile, Egypt scientists named Ibn al-Haytham (965-1040) was the first to realize that the cahayalah that goes into the eye, rather than out of the eye. The contribution of he on the principle of optics and visual perception is important, it is written in his book Kitab al-Manazir (book of Optics). In addition to creating a phenomenal book, Ibn al-Haytham also makes the camera for the first time named a Camera Obscura and pioneered in order for the natural sciences of the world shifted from philosophy to the world of experimentation. It was only later in the time of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), experiments in optics lots done so optics was appointed as part of the natural sciences, especially physics. Now, we know the optics of the time as Classical Optics.

There are certainly lots of scientific achievement in the process of developing modern technology-based light. From a historical point of view, the year 1880 was an important year because Alexander Graham Bell successfully created a tool named "photophone". Photophone is a tool that is able to change the intensity of light coming based on amplitude sound waves. A detector made of Selenium used to convert light into an electrical signal that is transmitted, and then back into sound. Photophone was not practical because of the intensity of the light which is easily weakened when the distance is getting away, but optical communication concepts demonstrated by the photophone has a role in the development of integrated optics.


Photophone, first tool that utilizes light to communicate

The development of modern technology of light-based equipment for the purpose of communication is initiated from the invention of the laser in 1960. The laser emits a beam of monochromatic light in the visible and infrared range has opened a frequency range that 10,000 times more powerful than the frequencies in radio communications systems. Due to the capacity of information may increase directly with the greater frequency, then the laser has the potential to increase the bandwidth of up to 10,000 time (order 4) and encourages the use of a frequency of 10 GHz up to 100 THz. Use just a little of the available frequency spectrum, in principle a laser can transmit the entire telephone conversation in North America.

Behind the potential bandwidth offered amazing laser, laser light is absorbed by rain, snow, fog, and smoke so as to impede the propagation of laser light in the atmosphere or air. If not thanks to optical fiber with low loss, then the communication system (including current internet system) will never become real. Research on the low-power fiber optic turns out to coincide with the development of semiconductor lasers bermoda, as a result of communications system that transmits information at a rate of more than 2 billion bits per second more than 130 km only with 1 error per billion bits become possible. On the rate of information and this error, 5 kinds of the encyclopedia with each kind has 30 volumes can be transferred from New York to Philadhelphia in 1 seconds and his error was simply a 2-letter capital but should be lower case.

Then how is the rapid development in the field of optical komuniikasi can affect the optics integrated? With the ability to transmit the signal over optical-fiber optic, then also required the ability to periodically strengthen with repeated customize the optical signal using a repeater. In the case of classical optics, ineffective in its application. Optical Repeater usually use lasers, detectors, lenses, mirrors, optical tables scattered in relatively large size. Whereas such equipment is highly sensitive to changes in temperature and mechanical vibration. Intelligent solutions given by S.E. Miller (Bell Labs researcher) who do miniaturization repeaters by way of merging all the components in a single chip and its components connected via optical transmission lines or pandu waves. Miniaturization is very likely due to the wavelength of the laser is the order of microns. So fabrication repeater with component measuring micrometers and produce systems with dimensions of sentimenter on meters is possible.

Although early research in integrated Optics is focused on optical communication field, potential applications in other fields are also possible, such as in the field of sensors, medical, etc. The subject matter varied from the Scouting process in optical, switching, modulation, filtering, interferometry, signal processing, clutch pandu wave, generation, optical detection, to the fabrication technology in the micro and nanometer scale. Semiconductor also has extremely important towards the advancement of integrated optics. These advances led to the combination of the field of optical, electro-optical, and electricity so that it can enhance both flexibility and scope of integrated optics.

Read also why we need to master the science of optics and Fotonika?


[1] Al-Khalili, Jim. "In retrospect: the book of optics." Nature 518.7538 (2015): 164-165.

[2] Lee, Donald l. Electromagnetic principles of integrated optics. Wiley, 1986.

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