UNESCO has declared the 16th of May as the International Day of Light. The European Commission will be represented at the inauguration by the Director of Digital Industry Directorate, Dr. Lucilla Sioli.

The logo of the international year of Light, a graphic showing the sun on a multicoloured background

Photonics is one of the Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) of the 21st century. The science that will dramatically change our lives in the coming decades. Already now it has a big impact. The enormous data volumes exchanged in the internet can only be mastered by light-technology, namely light signals transmitted by optical fibres.

But this is just an example of where Photonics shows its advantages.

The International Day of Light will be held on the anniversary of the first successful laser operation of the in 1960. The laser, once considered a solution in search of a problem, is a perfect example of how a scientific discovery can yield revolutionary benefits to society.

Laser technology may be commonly known from gadgets like laser pointers, but its presence goes way beyond this. Lasers are everywhere, from medical devices, enabling better diagnostics and more effective treatments, to 3D printing and very precise production technology.

And photonics does not stop at lasers. Optical sensors will be at the heart of solutions such as autonomous cars. Last, but not least, lighting our homes and cities will come at a 20.000 times lower cost and CO2 footprint with OLED technology.

There is so much to discover on how Photonics is improving our lives.

The International Day of Light is a follow-up to the highly successful International Year of Light in 2015 that reached over 100 million people in over 140 countries. The International Day of Light will be inaugurated in Paris and will consist of coordinated activities on national, regional and international levels.