Optics is the physical science that studies the origin and propagation of light, how it changes, what effects it produces, and other phenomena associated with it. This "Optics Timeline" highlights important events and developments in the science of optics from prehistory to the beginning of the 21st century. It also includes related developments in other fields and related milestones in the human worldview.
L. F. Mollenauer
Fibers produced were so transparent that a signal could pass through 150 miles of fiber before becoming too weak to detect.
The “Illusion Transmitter” is basically a device that would simulate a real-time, 3-dimensional viewing of an object through optical illusions with parabolic mirrors.
Nicolaas Bloembergen & Arthur L. Schawlow
Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for their contributions to the development of laser spectroscopy."
Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer
Invents a scanning tunneling microscope that gives three-dimensional images of objects down to the atomic level.
Samuel Blum, Rangaswamy Srinivasan and James Wynne
Observed the effect of the ultraviolet excimer laser on biological materials. Intrigued, they investigated further, finding that the laser made clean, precise cuts that would be ideal for delicate surgeries.
Published the first paper and gave the first talk on excimer laser lithography, use of a type of ultraviolet laser in creating integrated circuits.
Visa begins putting laser holograms on credit cards to discourage forgery.
Leases right of way to install single-mode fiber from New York to Washington. The system will operate at 400 million bits per second at 1.3 micrometers. This starts the shift to single-mode fiber in America.
Performs field trial of single-mode fiber, which causes them to abandon graded-index fibers in favor of single-mode fibers.
Lays first underwater fiber to carry regular telecom traffic.
D L Matthews et al
Described X-ray laser experiments in which amplified spontaneous emission was observed at wavelengths around 20 nm.
Single-mode fiber spreads across America to carry long-distance telephone signals at rates of 400 million bits per second and up.
Lasers are used in surgery.
SB Poole Univ of Southampton
A short strand of erbium-doped glass was spliced into a main optical fiber allowing the system to receive energy from an external source, and to act as a laser by amplifying a weak optical signal without electronic circuitry. This increased the carrying capacity 100 times over systems utilizing electronic amplifiers.
Steven Chu, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William D. Phillips
Development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.
Fiber-optic cable across the English Channel in service
David Miller of AT&T Bell Labs
Developed an optical transistor called Self-Electro Optic-Effect Device, or SEED. The transistor involved a light-sensitive switch built with layers of gallium arsenide and gallium aluminum arsenide.
First disposable camera for photography.
Optical interferometer telescope arrays are built.
Digital Light Processing (DLP) is invented.
Introduces fiber amplifiers that are "doped" with the element erbium. These new optical amplifiers are able to boost light signals without first having to convert them into electrical signals and then back into light.
First transatlantic fiber cable is laid with glass so transparent that amplifiers are only needed about every 40 miles.