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.
The Hubble space telescope was positioned in a low Earth orbit.
Emmanuel Desurvire, David Payne and PJ Mears
Demonstrates optical amplifiers that are built into the fiber-optic cable itself.
First develops the optical coherence tomography (OCT ) technique, utilized coherent light, scattering and interference effects to construct 3D images of biological samples with micrometer (millionths of a meter) resolution.
Eric Betzig, Ray Wolfe, Mike Gyorgy and Jay Trautman, Pat Flynn
Development of a magneto-optic data storage technique that can squeeze 45 billion bits of data into a square-inch of disk space.
Optical Disc Storage System ("SERODS" for use in supercomputer memory)
Optical Biopsy System (OBS) developed
Jerome Faist, Federico Capasso, Deborah Sivco, Carlo Sirtori, Albert Hutchinson, and Alfred Cho (Bell Labs)
The Quantum Cascade Laser, a semiconductor laser, is invented and demonstrated. Lasing is achieved by a different method than typical semiconductor lasers.
Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman
Creation of the world's first Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC). A gas whose atoms or molecules are capable of occupying the same energy state and condenses into that state at very low temperatures. In this state it exhibits quantum mechanical properties on a macroscopic level.
T. Vo-Dinh, M. Panjehpour and B.F. Overholt,
Laser-Induced Differential Normalized Fluorescence Method for Cancer Diagnosis, a technique that enhances the slight differences between healthy and cancerous tissue.
Steven Chu, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William D. Phillips
Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.
Researchers at MIT
Create the first atom laser from a Bose Einstein condensate. An atom laser is a coherent beam of atoms that behave like a wave.
The first laser is approved for LASIK surgery by the FDA.