Optoelectronics is a field that concerns itself with the study and use of electronic systems and devices that are capable of producing, governing, and detecting light. As a sub-field of photonics, optoelectronics encompasses light such as visible light, X-rays, ultraviolet, infrared, gamma rays, and more. As a technology, optoelectronic devices serve a wide variety of applications and are constantly expanding as a field of study in the modern era. In this blog, we will provide an overview of the various types of optoelectronics, as well as some various examples of devices belonging to them.
If an optoelectronic is considered a light-emitting device, it is one that utilizes voltage and current in order to generate electromagnetic radiation, or light. These types of devices are most commonly used for providing illumination for a room or application, or as an indicator for a process or system. On the other hand, those that detect light do not produce it, rather convert electromagnetic energy back into current or voltage. These types of devices are most commonly implemented for both communication and light sensing, one example being a remote control and its affiliated device. As the remote sends radiated light based on user input, the receiving system collects the light and makes a change based on the command.
One example of a light emitting optoelectronic that proves use for multiple applications is the ultraviolet lamp. Such lamps are capable of producing electromagnetic radiation that is between that of visible light and x-rays, often being referred to as black light due to humans not being able to see it without aids. Typically, ultraviolet lamps are housed within a special glass or quartz material that allows for ultraviolet radiation to be transmitted much more easily than conventional glass, and an electric discharge lamp allows for radiation to be emitted at a desired wavelength. In general, ultraviolet lamps are utilized for medical use for germicide, industry and research, artificial tanning, and special effects for lighting stages.
An infrared heater is another common example of a light emitting optoelectronic that is commonly used for many applications, both commercial and personal. Infrared heaters are a device that generates heat, allowing for its body to achieve a higher temperature than its surroundings. The body then transfers its heat energy to a body that has a lower temperature, utilizing the emission of electromagnetic radiation. Transfer of energy may be contactless, and such heaters may be operated within a vacuum or the atmosphere. In general, infrared heaters serve applications including heating systems, cooking, plastic welding, warming animals, curing of coatings, glass heat treating, and much more.
Due to the capabilities of optoelectronics and their benefits, a number of applications and sectors are being revolutionized. Within data transmission, for example, technology such as optical repeaters and fiber optics are proving to be much more beneficial as compared to standard data transmission technologies, especially in areas that exhibit confined spaces and obstructions. Despite their wide range of benefits and uses, optoelectronics are complex systems that require a great amount of work when being designed and developed to ensure their proper functionality. Nevertheless, optoelectronics prove to be highly beneficial for many uses, opening new avenues for improved technology and capabilities for many applications across industries.
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