idl 21 Icon


The International Day of Light (IDL), observed annually on 16 May, is a unique opportunity to celebrate the incredible ways that light science impacts people’s lives. In honor of IDL, OPN encourages you to consider signing the pledge to Trust Science.

To commemorate this important day, OPN has put together several standout stories that highlight the value of science and technology, and that showcase how light science is driving advances across applications in sustainable development, clean energy, clean water, health care, communications infrastructure and astronomy.

    Research News

    Seeking Habitable Worlds

    Upgrades to the VLT’s mid-infrared camera enabled astronomers to spot a possible planet in Alpha Centauri’s habitable zone.

    [17 February 2021]

    New Eyes on the Sun

    Three solar observatories—two in space, one on Earth—are using advanced optics to study our closest star in greater detail than ever before.

    [01 February 2021]
    Research News

    Purifying Water with Bacteria and Light

    A wood-based solar-distillation device cleans contaminated water via a sustainable biosynthesis process.

    [17 July 2020]
    Research News

    Metasurface for Wireless, Light-Based Internet

    A large-area plasmonic nanogap structure paves the way for faster, more efficient free-space optical communication.

    [18 February 2021]

    Is Nothing Better Than Something?

    The idea of guiding light through hollow pipes dates to the 19th century, but solid-core fibers made much better optical waveguides. Now the emerging technology of hollow-core fibers has resurrected an old idea.

    [01 March 2021]

    Optics and the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Optics and photonics technologies are helping to combat coronavirus on multiple fronts: from prevention and detection to disease monitoring and disinfection.

    [01 May 2020]

    Nanophotonic Biosensors: Driving Personalized Medicine

    Point-of-care photonic biosensors could promote more integrated, informative, timely and precise diagnoses of human diseases—and better-targeted health care.

    [01 April 2020]

    Detecting Microplastics with Optics

    Emerging optical techniques for sniffing out millimeter- to sub-micron-scale plastics in aquatic settings could aid in the fight against a looming environmental threat.

    [01 November 2020]
    Light Touch

    The Best Disinfectant

    Exploring how sunlight, even absent any bells and whistles, can purify biologically contaminated water.

    [01 March 2019]

    Perovskite Photovoltaics: The Road Ahead

    In terms of efficiency, perovskite solar cells are the fastest-growing solar technology to date, but stability issues still block their widespread commercialization.

    [01 November 2020]