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Turn on the light! Grand launch of the International Year of Light

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2015 will be filled with light festivals, light and art, physics courses, lectures, astronomy, astrophysics, street lighting as part of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015(@IYL2015). This year was proclaimed by the United Nations to raise global awareness about light-based technologies, to promote sustainable development and to provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.

The Opening Ceremony on 19-20 January 2015, in Paris, has been organised with the support of the EU-funded initiative LIGHT2015. It will introduce all the key themes of the year, and will aim to inspire activities and events worldwide for the following 12 months. At the launch, Nobel Prize Laureates (Serge Haroche, Zhores Alferov, Ahmed Zewail, Steven Chu, William D. Phillips) as well as scientists on quantum optics, optical technologies and biophotonics and other  high level political and scientific participants will address themes such as energy and climate change and life and light.

Happening near you

Events are taking place throughout the year all over the world. In particular, the European Commission has invested €2.85 million in 3 projects (GoPhoton! LIGHT2015 and Photonics4All) to organise activities to help people understand the central role of light in science and culture and for our global future.

  • In cities and university campuses all over Europe; light and photonics weeks and LIGHT talk events
  • On your phone: Smartphone apps to trigger interest in light technologies: the applications use the camera of phone terminals to capture meaningful changes in the light, such as the redness in the skin or even the heart rate
  • In classrooms: A Photonics kit with five experiments (e.g. boat driven by solar energy; measuring the light spectrum from a light bulb; etc.) for workshops with youngsters, team events, children universities and workshops for teachers to adopt the use of 'photonics explorer'
  • For businesses and industry to stimulate entrepreneurship in photonics and to support startup companies

This will culminate in September coinciding with the IYL2015 Weekend of Light around the 2015 lunar eclipse (26-27 September) with events including a Europe-wide experiment to measure aerosol in the air.

About Photonics

Lasers, optical fibres, the cameras in our phones, LED lighting in our cars, homes, computer screens & TVs and optical tweezers are just a few examples of how photonics have changed technology and affected our daily lives As one of the Key Enabling Technologies, photonics is a cornerstone for the future, for driving innovation, economic growth and for solving societal challenges. Photonics is a 300 billion euro global market, growing 8% a year, with Europe taking 20%.

What does the EU do?

The European Commission has set up a Public Private Partnership with the photonics sector (Photonics 21) for a total EU investment of more than €700M to define the research and innovation agenda and the priorities within Horizon2020, the EU  Research and Innovation programme.

In the PPP, the industry side is represented by Photonics21, The European Technology Platform. With more than 2600 members, this body unites the majority of the leading photonics industries and relevant R&D stakeholders along the whole economic value chain throughout Europe. Their next annual meeting on 28 & 29 May 2015 will further focus on photonics solutions for the societal challenges of Europe such as energy-efficiency, the secure society and health to strengthen future research and innovation in Europe.