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What Are Optoelectronics?

Photonics is a branch of optics that consists of the generation, detection, and manipulation of light via emission, transmission, modulation, amplification, signal processing, switching, and sensing. Considered a sub-discipline of photonics, optoelectronics encompass a field of study and application of light-emitting or light-detecting devices. Today, optoelectronics is quickly becoming a fast emerging technology that includes applying electronic devices to source, detect, and control light.

Optoelectronics can be found in military services, automatic access control systems, telecommunications, medical equipment, and various other areas. As this field is so broad, there is a wide range of devices that fall under the category of optoelectronics. For example, some of the most common devices are LEDs, photodiodes, information displays, optical storage gadgets, solar cells, optical fibers, remote sensing systems, and more.

Generally, optoelectronic devices are components utilized to detect or emit electromagnetic radiation, with specific focus on the visible and near-infrared (NIR) region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Both of these functions take advantage of the photoelectric effect of materials, usually known as a light-matter interaction. This was a premise established by Einstein, who postulated that light was formed of photons rather than continuous waves.

The underlying mechanisms of all optoelectronic devices are based on the photovoltaic effect, which refers to the generation of voltage and electric current in a particular material when it is exposed to light. More specifically, when a light beam hits a photoelectric material, photon energy can be absorbed by the electrons within the material’s crystal lattice. This is only achieved if the energy surpasses the electron’s energy band gap, allowing it to be ejected from the material.

Without question, optoelectronics are a vital technology that has permitted the seamless operation of the information industry, benefitting medical, communications, aerospace, and defense sectors. However, like most technology, there are advantages and disadvantages of optoelectronics that must be taken into consideration. Apart from providing high-bandwidth for communications, exhibiting lower power consumption, and being cost-effective, optoelectronics are helping provide a new outlook for designing satellites.

Thanks to optoelectronics, military and aerospace industries can transmit over-air radio frequency links that cannot always reach their receivers with other forms of technology. In terms of disadvantages, optoelectronic devices are often temperature sensitive, require great precision to establish secure connections, and the integration of optoelectronic elements on a substrate is typically challenging. Nonetheless, they have made a number of other tasks easier despite their drawbacks.

Alongside optoelectronics, there is another field to consider: electro-optics. Electro-optics consist of applied electrical fields to generate and control optical radiation. Keep in mind that electro-optic (E-O) is often used interchangeably with optoelectronic, which is incorrect. As such, there is an important distinction to be made. While electro-optics is the electrical manipulation of devices and systems to produce desired light properties, photonics is concerned with manipulating light to generate a required electrical signal.

As per Market Insight Reports, the optoelectronics market is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 10.25% by 2024. As optoelectronic devices make up a vast part of the global semiconductor sector, growth is being seen in a few key areas. For display technology in electronic devices, LEDs have become an industry standard. In the automotive industry, the adoption of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles has boosted the usage of optoelectronics. Even manufacturing and fabrication technologies are using optoelectronics.

ASAP Semiconductor is a leading supplier of optoelectronics devices as well as a number of semiconductor components. With over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items on our database, customers can easily meet rigid time constraints and strict budget parameters. Get started with the procurement process today and see how ASAP Semiconductor can serve as your strategic sourcing solution. For additional questions about our other offered services, call or email us at any time; we are available around the clock! 


September 16, 2022

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