Optics is an old and venerable subject involving the generation, propagation, and detection of light. Three major developments, which have been achieved in the last thirty years, are responsible for the rejuvenation of optics and for its increasing importance in modern technology: the invention of the laser, the fabrication of low-loss optical fibers, and the introduction of semiconductor optical devices. As a result of these developments, new disciplines have emerged and new terms describing these disciplines have come into use: electro-optics, optoelectronics, quantum electronics, quantumoptics, and lightwave technology. Although there is a lack of complete agreement about the precise usages of these terms, there is a general consensus regarding their meanings.


Electro-optics is generally reserved for optical devices in which electrical effects play a role (lasers, and electro-optic modulators and switches, for example). Optoelectronics, on the other hand, typically refers to devices and systems that are essentially electronic in nature but involve light (examples are light-emitting diodes, liquid-crystal display devices, and array photodetectors). The term quantum electronics is used in connection with devices and systems that rely principally on the interaction of light with matter (lasers and nonlinear optical devices used for optical amplification and wave mixing serve as examples). Studies of the quantum and coherence properties ...

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