Is it possible to imagine the world without light? Life starts with blessing of light. Euclid, also called Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician who was born between the year of 320 and 324 BC. In his Optica, he noted that light travels in straight lines and described the law of reflection. Urge of research in light and optics initiated from that ancient time even further than the work of Galileo and Newton. Recent trend in optics research has grown with the invention of the laser, semi-conductor, photography, telescope, microscope and imaging. The increasing interaction between optics and electronics develop various new materials with unique optical properties, and other extraordinary advances. Significantly, light-based research progress impulses our society forward, from transformation data through optical fiber around globe to diagnosis of some diseases early and bring hope to our own family.
But is our education system taking responsibility for awareness of students on light?
There is deficiency of optics education in high schools in India and it create very little knowledge about applied optics for the new students in our universities. The new generations are using smart phones, laptops etc. taking photos to store their every moment of life but they think optics as eccentric research field. Significantly, the students from Liberal and Arts, feel optics far away from them and not necessary, difficult stuff.
In 2015, the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, various universities around the world offered the course Light-based Science and Technologies as a general education course for multidisciplinary students.
Spreading the knowledge of applied optics among multidisciplinary students could be a progressive upcoming step for this domain.
Popular and striking course design
Multidisciplinary course material should have wide range coverage comparing to a professional optical course. We could segregate the course as part one consists the time sequence of historic events of light and part two contents academic area. Aim of the course should be to connect our daily life with science, to make a bridge between optics and different field like politics, economics, law and arts. Recently, Zhejiang University has proposed a 16 weeks general course on optics having optics in Mozi, geometrical optics in ancient Greece and civilization in ancient Greece, geometrical optics in Europe and the invention of spectacles; Leonardo da Vinci’s arts: light and image, Snell’s law; optical achievements of amateur scientist Fermat; Galileo discovered the new universe; the invention of microscope, the observation of Levenhoek and the establishment of microbiology; Photography principles, Louis Daguerre and camera; the development of photography since 19th century etc.
Optometry education based on applied optics: Reform laboratory setting
Don’t you think that optics of the eye are a superb model to use in optics education? Optometry education starts with basic optics course, consists with geometrical, physical, and visual optics principals that will be the base of clinical understanding of eye and foundation of advance course like ophthalmic optics and contact lenses. In optics education, hands on experiences of looking at distant and close objects by using glasses and contact lenses as correcting devices is necessary for understanding of everyday visualization.
Introductory discussions of lens and human eye is possible with this model eye and includes many features that are useful in the demonstration of ophthalmic concepts such as: an object eye chart, a holder for correcting lenses, an adjustable diaphragm that may be filled with water to change lens power, and an adjustable screen/retina with marks for the fovea and optic disk/blind spot.
Picture Curtsey: Optical Society of America (OSA) (https://denoyer.com/products/jumbo-functioning-eye)
Reform teaching method: Discussion, argument on Optics and problem solving
Imaging, prediction, experimentation and confirmation, these are the four steps of evaluation of science. In 1864, Maxwell imagined the existence of electromagnetic waves and created Maxwell’s equations based on his previous studies and mathematical derivation. After almost 20 years, Hertz published a series of papers that permitted Maxwell’s theory to spread in Europe. Thereafter, he proved that light is an electromagnetic wave by experiments.
Discussion on this domain is very significant to start the growth in multidisciplinary area as well as professional. Arguments are very important to find truth; which certainly based on facts. An example on argument is about Galileo’s telescope and his observation; sometime it is wrongly controlled by powerful people, not with truth and justice. Reformation our teaching method will be opening up mind of next generation.
Digital platform of teaching-learning method could accelerate the understanding of optics. Course materials should not be simple which can fast-forward the student from a question to an answer. Avoiding the conventional descriptive type question answer, focus should be made on practical problem-solving ability. In these procedures, thought processes will get complete understanding of the solution. Encompassing the ideas learned in the classroom to the lab and vice-versa is awfully important and can facilitate this learning process.
New addition of applied optics into the undergraduate Physics
Students only can learn applied optics if they are allowed to proceed through sequence of discovery-based laboratory experiences. The aim of the course should be to provide hands-on experience and in-depth knowledge of students for graduate programs in optics or as applied optics professional for new emerging high-tech local industries. In unconventional way, the applied optics course should be inclined towards laboratory work. In consequence, four contact hours per week should include a one-hour lecture and a three-hour lab.
Multidisciplinary projects will be encouraged to successful implementation of knowledge. Students should be encouraged to perform application-based projects such as optical properties of thin semiconductor films, diffraction from thin films of self-assembled micron size particles, image processing, fiber optics-based sensor, diffraction effect from butterfly wings, digital holography, ocean optics, etc. The new introduction in domain could be extend knowledge on aberrations of any optical devices, microscopes and telescopes, cameras and photography, visual processing, light sources and detectors, optical fiber based devices, quantum nature of light, lasers, laser applications, holography, nonlinear optical phenomena, ocean optics, ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) optics materials.
The lab experiments have to be enlisted from a broad range of topics in optics and lasers, emphasizing on geometrical optics and aberrations in optical systems, wave optics, microscopy, spectroscopy, polarization, birefringence, laser generation, laser properties and applications, optical fiber and optical standards. The starting budget of about $60,000 is providing advanced lab equipment from Newport Co. and MICOS Co.
Know about optical technology careers
The rising industry creates a huge job opportunity and it is distributed in industries include: Aerospace & Aviation division, Laboratory & University, Space centre, Manufacturing equipment, Communications, Electronics/Semiconductor, Medical/Biotechnology, Military, Photonics, Chemical, Pharmaceuticals, Environment. There are demands of optical engineers/ optical fiber expert in different companies such as, Verizon, AT&T, Tata Communication, Comcast and Google Fibre etc.; in India, Reliance Jio, Vodafone, Airtel etc.; cosmetic laser technician etc.
Role of university for spreading optical education in benefit of optical industry & research
Most high school students receive small exposure to physics because of the mathematics involved with Physics and presuppositions that physics is a difficult science. As a result, few students are aware of the abundant career opportunities in this field. In order to bring student’s attention to this rapidly evolving discipline, offering workshops or any outreach program for high school students is very effective.
Optical technology is overwhelming in industrial applications and research fields such as laser processing, DVD, displays, barcodes, and advanced measurement in medical or material research. In 1960, the discovery of Laser by T. H. Maiman plays a vital role in the development of these optical technologies. Recent, in 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the development of optical tweezers and its application to biological systems and for the development of ultra-high power, ultra-short pulse lasers.
Definitely, Optics is recognized as an integrated field of knowledge. The universities should outspread optical education across different disciplinary, includes science departments, engineering departments, and departments in schools of medicine. Because the field of optics is not sharply defined by a job position or in a single professional society, it can be difficult to develop a quantitative picture of the volume of the optics research community. University should understand the causes of the gap between advanced optical research and optical industry and to explore its solutions from the perspective of light education.
Study on growth of optical technology based on statistics on different conference, workshop etc. attendee shows its rapid development. Annual U.S. Conference on Lasers and Electro-optics (CLEO), Optical Fiber Conference, annual meeting of the Quantum Electronics and Lasers Society, the International Quantum Electronics Conference, the annual meeting of the Optical Society of America, the Lasers and Electro-optics Society annual meeting, and conferences organized throughout the year by SPIE, such as Photonics West and Photonics East, altogether, the field involves more than 30,000 active scientists and engineers worldwide.
Impact on the economy is very remarkable, such as optoelectronics is now a major component of U.S. import and export trade. The rate of formation of optics-related businesses has grown rapidly during the 1990s.
The university should realize greater investment in research and education in optics with collaboration of other institutions and government funding agency. We are confident that these findings will produce the bringing up of optical engineers and the development of the optical industry.
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