There are numerous industrial applications of light, from communications systems to laser-guided drilling equipment, but a particularly interesting and, from the students’ perspective, contemporary area is display and image-capture technology. Examples of industry links to the activities within the unit are:


Relevance to Industry

1.1 Sources of light

Solids and gases are used in LCD and plasma screens to produce white/coloured light

1.2 How does light travel?

Altering the direction of light so each eye sees a different image is the basis of 3D lenticular displays such as those used in the Nintendo 3DS

1.4 Exploring white light and filters

Some LCD TVs use white light sources and filters to produce red, green, and blue pixels

1.5 Exploring primary colours

RGB pixels are used in virtually all display technology to produce coloured images. Conversely, RGB sensors are used in cameras to record colour images.

1.7 Exploring refraction

2.2 Investigating Snell’s law

The refractive index of screens must be relatively constant across visible wavelengths or distortion of the image/colours would occur depending on viewing angle

1.8 Exploring lenses

2.4 Investigating lenses

Lenticular lenses are used in 3D displays that do not require glasses, and are obviously a key part of camera systems

2.5 Optical Storage

Interference patterns form the basis of holography, and holographic 3D TVs are expected to move from development to production stage in the next few years.

2.6 How do sunglasses work?

Polarization of light and acceptance/rejection by polarization filters is the method by which current-generation 3D movies (eg. Avatar, Tintin, etc) display different images to each eye

The activities within the Light unit can be readily shown to have ‘practical’ and ‘technological’ applications beyond the classroom. Professions requiring an understanding of the behaviour of light with regard to imaging technology is not limited to the production of screens and cameras, but includes such areas as computer animation (where scenes are ‘rendered’ or ‘ray-traced’ to provide realistic images), photography and cinematography (the use of filters, lenses, and lighting to achieve a distinctive ‘look’ in films), and in special effects.