The Education Program for Photonics Professionals (EP3) provides strategic education to a number of sectors in which photonics is either a primary business or an important enabling technology.
In health care, cutting-edge photonics applications are driving laser surgery, minimally invasive surgery and photodynamic therapy, among others. On the research side, genetic research and diagnostics require scientists and medical personnel trained in laser spectroscopy and diagnostic light imaging, which requires an understanding of optics. Current techniques are only the beginning, as Industry Canada reports
While some of these [biophotonics] clinical technologies are very mature (e.g. white-light endoscopy), many are recent inventions and are still at the developmental stage or are just entering clinical practice. We expect explosive growth in this area of application.
Lasers and laser-imaging systems have become crucial in manufacturing industries, which now widely employ lasers for welding, cutting, drilling, 3-dimensional modeling, diagnostics and alignment and inspection systems. Some manufacturing sectors, such as semiconductor manufacturing, employ still more specialized photonic and imaging systems.
Imaging and sensing
Recent advances in optical sensing have made possible a broad-range of photonics applications. For example, most monitoring of air-borne pollutants is now done by laser spectroscopy. Optical recognition systems, such as fingerprint, face and eye scans, are an emerging standard in biometeric security systems. Satellite and high-altitude imaging systems have important military, urban-planning, crop-monitoring, and scientific applications.
Though the photonics-based telecommunications sector in Ontario is in temporary decline, the fundamental forces that drove the previous growth of these companies have not changed. Fiber-optic networks are far superior to existing copper phone lines to carry high-speed data, voice, and video transmissions. Industry Canada predicts that
Future growth will come from increasing residential deployment of fiber-optic cable, increasing utilization of fiber based applications in rural areas, growing demand for multi-mode fiber in local area networks, and decreasing costs of fiber, driven by improvements in supporting electronics and infrastructure.
Telecommunication remains an important industry cluster, and photonics is a key enabling technology in its future growth.
Developing photonics areas
Optical computing may revolutionise the Information & Technology (IT) sector. Photonic-based nanotechnologies could have a large impact on a number of sectors including imaging and telecommunications. These are just two examples of as yet undeveloped areas with huge potential economic impact.