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Definition: the technology of electronic devices that interact with light

Alternative term: optronics

German: Optoelektronik

Categories: photonic devices, optoelectronics


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Optoelectronics (also called optronics) is the technology of electronic devices that interact with light, which may be in the visible, the infrared or ultraviolet spectral region. Examples of optoelectronic devices are:

Optoelectronic devices are used in a wide variety of application areas, such as optical fiber communications, laser technology, and all kinds of optical metrology.

Optoelectronics is largely based on semiconductor materials. These exhibit suitable bandgap energies for absorbing e.g. near-infrared and visible light, and their electric conductivity (albeit not perfect) is also essential for such applications. In both aspects, dielectrics would be hard to use, while metals serve mostly as conductors, apart from the exploitation of the external photoelectric effect in some photodetectors.

Indirect band gap materials such as silicon and germanium are often sufficient for exploiting absorption processes, for example in photodetectors, but are generally less suited for emitting light. This is a substantial challenge for silicon photonics, where however various kinds of solutions has been found. Still, emitting devices such as laser diodes are largely based on direct band gap materials, particularly of III–V type – for example, gallium arsenide and indium phosphide.

See also: electro-optics, quantum electronics, laser physics, silicon photonics, photodetectors, photodiodes, image sensors, laser diodes, semiconductors

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