Societal importance of the L4L theme

Celebrating Light

The International Day of Light (IDL), 16th May 2020, celebrates 60 years from the invention of the LASER.

We mark IDL 2020 through the release of a podcast created by our colleague Hannah Tonry, consisting of a series of interviews with artists, architects and technologists collaborating with the Applied Optics Group who all have a story to tell about how light shapes their work.

George Dobre, 16 May 2020

Perfugium Miseris Artwork Over Water – photo credit Storme Sabine

Theresa Smith:  
George Dobre:
Patrick Bowen:
Howard Griffin:
Music Licenses:
On My Way by Kevin MacLeod
Morse Code Soundscape:
Nicholas De Carlo
Created by: Hannah Tonry

International Day of Light events can be viewed at the global IDL website.

Supported by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics

Message from the organizers of International Day of Light (IDL) (Bethany Downer IDL, Leiden University):

We welcome you to enjoy and share the new 2020 International Day of Light Video, created by the Optical Society (OSA), SPIE and the IEEE Photonics Society with support from the IDL Steering Committee. This video message addresses how light science and technology can provide efficient solutions to current global challenges:

#SEETHELIGHT is a worldwide message encouraging all to join the conversation and celebrate the importance of the science of light and light-based technologies in our lives. As part of this campaign, the IDL committee has featured four new articles on the topics of Better Diagnostics & Treatments, Cleaner Energy, Sustainable ​Farming, and High Speed Connectivity:

This list makes us proud of what L4L Hub intends to achieve, as all 4 example of activities listed above are already integral parts of the partnerships defined within the L4L.

Celebrating Light in lockdown

Deprived from the chance of performing teaching face to face and experimental research, optics specialists have invented themselves and produced all sorts of improvisations. Please see two below, placed on this page in celebration for the inspiration that International Day of Light, 16th May 2020, inspires us all.

Distance teaching

The current broadband internet is made possible by optical links, using specialised fibre optics equipment. It is only the LIGHT, that allows all of us to organise so many Teams and Zoom meetings during the lockdown and working from home time.

In the example below, the broadband interned optical fibre has allowed to connect two laptops and two mobiles to simulate and control the content broadcast during live lectures. Using Teams, all devices create a live, secure environment. One mobile is turned around and suspended above the desk to act as a visualiser. The other mobile is connected as guest to monitor exactly what the students view.

The two Laptops are used for sharing the screen, acting for main connection and two are used, to have a back up in case one exhibits problems. The improvisation consisted in the way all these devices are brought together on Teams and avoiding microphone.

The most challenging was the visualiser, here a small chair was used to host one mobile suspended above the paper, to broadcast live sketches.

The mobile used to monitor what students actually see:

Adrian Podoleanu, 16th May 2020

Research home

Cleaning surfaces

We all heard from TV and press how long C-19 survives on surfaces. There are all sorts of reports that UVC, at less than 250 nm may affect the viruses, then specialized fibre with lateral irradiation may be used to achieve exactly that. Caution, UVC is dangerous!!! Not to be replicated. However, the broadband light emitted by the bunch of optical fibres deserves to be switched on for the International Day of Light today, 16th May 2020, and with the little power emitted, may be the viruses, if any, on the groceries just delivered to the home from the online shop, may be destroyed.

Adrian Podoleanu shares this for the beauty of light and not as a recommendation to use the light in-house, although the power here is very little.

Adrian Podoleanu, 16th May 2020


Manuel Marques shares some of the devices he uses on his weekly bike rides and how they rely on the science and technology of Light. This shows how Light enables entertainment and recreation, even during lockdown!
Manuel Marques, 16th May 2020.


Nobel prize numbers show attention given to Light

  • Subjects of Nobel Prizes related to Light and relevance for subthemes A,B,C
  • Large Volume Optics, Digital Cameras (Nobel Prize 2009) – A,B,C; 
  • Femtosecond Lasers in Ophthalmic Surgery (Nobel Prize 2018); A
  • Superresolution Microscopy in Cancer Research (Nobel Prize 2014); A
  • Optical Tweezers for Stem Cell Treatment (Nobel Prize 2018); A
  • Blue Laser Diode (Nobel Prize 2014); A, B, C
  • Manipulation of Quantum Systems (Nobel Prize 2012); A
  • Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Nobel Prize 2017); A

World Initiatives: 

  • International Day of Light, Connecting Cities
  • Major professional societies with conferences or dedicated initiatives on Light for Life, such as the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), Optical Society of America (OSA), International Commission of Optics (ICO), The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) 
  • Society for Information Display (‘SID’), that organised Display Week 2019 exhibition in San Jose in early May, where a Vector Graphics Laser Projection (VGLP) system was launched; 
  • Physics of Life Interface, supported by EPSRC, BBSRC and MRC, over 90% of its initiatives are based on Light based technologies;
  • Study of presence of Life within the Hubble spots liquid water on a ‘super-Earth’ 110 light-years away;
  • Many of the individual participants to the Light for Life subscribe to the magazine: Biophotonics, or have co-authored papers in the Journal of Biophotonics, published by Wiley and several other journals or conferences have sections on biophotonicss (Bio = Life, Photonics = Light)
  • Light installations, such as Rainbow Panorama, by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson.

National Initiatives: