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What are
Electro Optics?

What are Electro Optics?

Electro-Optics play a vital role in specialist manufacturing, such as within the field of electrical engineering and within the manufacturing of optics and beam delivery equipment. By definition ‘optics’ is the science of light, therefore electro-optics describes the science of electrical light. Understanding electro-optics allows scientists to understand the behaviour and properties of light, and how light interacts with different matter. Electro-optics is crucial in the application of complicated equipment, such as lasers, LEDS and waveguides, which all individually have a multitude of useful functions.

In terms of definitions, electro-optics can popularly be described as photonics, however, if a device specifically benefits from electro-optics, it means it works on the basis of the electro-optic effect. In a narrow sense, the electro-optic effect is concerned with the generation, control of propagation (this describes the way in which the electromagnetic wave travels) and detection of electromagnetic waves. Understanding how the electro-optic effect operates is beneficial with tools such as lasers, as it allows scientists to have more control over how they can use the lasers and manipulate them to their advantage. Below we have explored each aspect of the electro-optic effect.

Generation of Electromagnetic Waves

In order for lasers and other tools within the optics and beam delivery equipment realm to function, they need to be able to emit certain types of electromagnetic waves. For example, lasers emit either visible light, infrared or ultraviolent radiation, which all have different electromagnetic wave frequencies. Electro-optics is thus concerned with the generation of these waves and typically focuses on the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Propagation of Electromagnetic Waves

Electro-optics investigates how best to control the propagation of radiation, for example with the various light emitted by lasers. Electro-optics uses technology to direct and focus light, creating directional waves of radiation.

Detection of Electromagnetic Waves

As technology emits radiation, it is essential to record the data accurately. Photodetectors respond to electromagnetic radiation and electrically record the characteristics of the radiation. For example, how powerful the beam of radiation is.


With regards to the application of electro-optics, if scientists know how different electromagnetic waves interact with different materials, they then can predict how effective the technology will be. For example, knowing how a laser will interact with different materials, allows scientists to alter which lasers they use, to effectively carry out the function.

Tools such as electro-optic modulators have been invented which can be used for controlling the power of light with an electrical control signal. Another example includes electroabsorption modulators, a device used to control the intensity of a laser beam.

Understanding electro-optics has allowed inventors to investigate new technologies and explore how science can increase productivity and functionality within the manufacturing industry.

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