(2) monochromatic, meaning that the photons can have a well-defined single color. Today we can see how these effects are used in many areas. With light:
• High amounts of energy can be precisely directed with low loss.
• Many different properties of waves (i.e., degrees of freedom such as amplitude, frequency, phase, polarization, and direction) can be accurately manipulated.
• Waves can be coherently processed to have high directionality, speed, and dynamic range.
Optics, Electro-optics, Optoelectronics, and Photonics: Definitions and the Emergence of a Field
Optics—the science that deals with the generation and propagation of light—can be traced to 17th-century ideas of Descartes concerning transmission of light through the aether, Snell’s law of refraction, and Fermat’s principle of least time. These ideas were subsequently built upon through the 19th century by Hooke (interference of light and wave theory of light), Boyle (interference of light), Grimaldi (diffraction), Huygens (light polarization), Newton (corpuscular theory), Young (interference), Fresnel (diffraction), Rayleigh, Kirchhoff, and, of course, Maxwell (electromagnetic fields). The end of the 19th century marked the close of the era of classical optics and the start of quantum optics. In 1900, Max Planck’s introduction of energy quanta marked the first steps toward quantum theory and an early understanding of atoms and molecules. With the demonstration in 1960 of the first laser, many of the fundamental and seemingly disconnected principles of optics established by Einstein, Bose, Wood, and many others were focused and drawn together.
“Electro-optics” and “optoelectronics” are both terms describing subfields of optics involving the interaction between light and electrical fields. Although John Kerr, who discovered in 1875 that the refractive index of materials changes in response to an electrical field, could arguably be regarded as the inaugurator of the field of electro-optics, the term “electro-optics” first gained popularity in the literature in the early 1960s. By 1964 authors from RAND could be found publishing from a group called the Electro-Optical Group. In 1965 the Quantum Electronics Council of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) was formed from IEEE’s Electronic Devices Group and Microwave Theory and Techniques Group; in 1977 became an IEEE society; and in 1985 took the name Lasers and Electro-Optics Society, thus legitimizing the use of the name in the professional field.
The exact origins and limits of the term “optoelectronics” are difficult to pin down. Some claim that optoelectronics is a subfield of electro-optics involving the study and application of electronic devices that source, detect, and control light. Colloquially, the term “optoelectronics” is most commonly used to refer to the quantum mechanical effects of light on semiconductor materials, sometimes in the presence of an electrical field. Semiconductors started to assume serious importance in optics in 1953, when McKay and McAfee demonstrated electron multiplication