Photonics is the eld of science dedicated to studying light, its wave-particle duality (photon), its generation, detection, manipulation, emission,
transmission, modeling, signal processing, amplication, and sensing..
Light and Photonics
Emerging in the 1960s, the first studies in the field of photonics began after the discovery of lasers. The initial goal
was to use light to perform conventional tasks that were previously associated with the field of electronics, such as
telecommunications, information processing, and others.
With the invention of the diode laser in 1970, optical fibers for information transmission, and optical signal amplifiers, the field dedicated to studying the transmission of light was consolidated, creating an infrastructure for a true
revolution in telecommunications. infra-estrutura para uma verdadeira revolução nas telecomunicações.
Modest but steadily growing, the 1980s held historic events for photonics. In 1980, the term gained momentum when
American telecommunications operators adopted data transmission via optical fibers.
In January 1989, the former IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society, a scientific society focused on quantum engineering, launched a new scientific journal called Photonics Technology Letters. By 1991, the journal became the primary
source of information in the field.
Used for processing, editing, transmitting, and storing data and information, optical signals, the foundation of photonics, do so with significant advantages. Compared to electrons, photons have superior performance because they bene-
fit from the speed of light, which is faster than electricity.
In addition to the cost-effectiveness and precision that photonic-based sensors offer compared to more conventional
forms, this technology is highly flexible, rapidly manufacturable, clean, and resource-effcient.
There are numerous applications of photonics in today’s society. In the field of healthcare, the ability of light to detect
and measure diseases quickly, sensitively, and accurately is already being explored by researchers.
Non-invasive imaging techniques or those applied on-site for patient care are just some of the applications. Rehabilitation robotics, a field focused on building machines and devices that assist in the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, has also greatly benefited. Instrumenting these devices with optical fiber sensors allows for fast and precise data
transmission and can be installed in various prototypes.
The flexibility of photonics is what stands out. Used in advanced lighting technologies such as Solid State Lighting
(SSL), this technology helps conserve energy, potentially up to 70%.
The flow of information on the internet today, which requires increasingly fast, environmentally friendly, and transparent broadband, is also possible thanks to photonics. Research in the European Union is now focused on balancing the
growth of digital traffc and the drastic increase in energy consumption that the network has, especially in servers and
If you’re someone who seeks to enhance security, photonics also enables this. Optical fiber sensors are already used to
detect defects in construction structures, for example. In addition to the physical aspect, photonics is highly utilized in
digital security, such as biometrics, facial recognition security systems, and equipment for detecting hazardous goods
Photonics in numbers
According to Market Sand Markets, a market analysis agency, the global photonics market was valued at $593.7 billion
in 2020. With a 7.1% annual growth rate, this number is expected to jump to $837.8 billion by 2025.
Data from the European Union (EU) in 2021 shows that the 7% annual growth is real, with China being the most advanced country in the global market (29%), followed by the EU, North America (15%), and Japan (13%).
Apart from the impressive growth figure, the photonics industry has also surpassed all other industries in job creation.
With a 2.1% annual increase, the industry generated twice as many jobs as all other European industries, with over
30,000 new jobs created between 2015 and 2019. The Western bloc believes that photonics is the key technology to
achieve economic autonomy, and investment in science and innovation in the field of light should continue.
Photonics in Brazil
Investment in photonics in Brazil was still modest until 2016 when the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MCTI) announced the National Strategy for Science, Technology, and Innovation (ENCTI 2016-2022). The document proposed new paradigms for collaborative innovation in Brazil, strengthening the relationship between universities and companies to create a basis for the sustainable development of the country.
The Action Plan in Science, Technology, and Innovation for Convergent and Enabling Technologies, Volume III – Photonics, one of the strategies of ENCTI, compiled a series of goals, actions, and implementation strategies for the period
from 2016 to 2022.
In 2021, another significant leap for technology in Brazil occurred.
Through the GABMI Ordinance No. 4,532, dated March 5, 2021, the Brazilian Photonics Initiative (IBFóton) was established. IBFóton is now the largest strategic program to promote photonics in the country, with the aim of strengthening government actions in the field
Prioritizing nine sectors, including Agriculture, Environment, Industry, and Health, the initiative is directly aligned with
the plans of ENCTI, seeking to consolidate the sector in the country while developing science, research, and training in
A little later, in March 2021, the National System of Photonics Laboratories (Sisfóton-MCTI) was created. Focused on promoting innovation in the Brazilian industry, Sisfóton consists of a set of 11 laboratories, one of which is the integrator (CPQD), and the other 11 are general.
Among the group’s actions are bi-monthly meetings, as well as international partnerships with BRICS countries, five
emerging economies. The laboratories within Sisfóton must also foster partnerships between Scientific, Technological,
and Innovative Institutions (ICT) and the private sector, contribute to the consolidation of a photonics industry in the
country, and promote the internationalization of national programs and initiatives
Fotônica no Espírito Santo
The Telecommunications Laboratory (LabTel) at the Federal University of Espírito Santo was one of the pioneers in Brazil in photonics research and technological development.
Since the end of the 1980s, it has been investing in training its personnel and
cultivating specialized workforce.
perating in nearly all segments of the photonics industry, LabTel has contributed to the development of new components and devices for
optical networks, which became popular during
the pandemic as a means of high-speed internet access.
Today, LabTel is part of the select group of laboratories within Sisfóton-MCTI, specializing
in the field of telecommunications, fiber optic-based sensors, and, more recently, the development of artificial intelligence techniques based on photonics.
The laboratory conducts its work in collaboration with both public and private companies and research centers in Brazil and abroad.