New Photonics Certificate Program

May 1, 2004

Engineers are harnessing light to perform useful tasks in ways that we could never have imagined just a few decades ago. Recognizing the limitless future of this new field of photonics, Duke's Graduate School has created a certificate program in photonics at the Pratt School of Engineering.

The program is designed to pull together components in different departments and programs and give professional masters and Ph.D. students in the sciences and engineering a broad foundation in photonics on which to build in their own discipline.

"Trends and developments in optics can easily be missed if the multidisciplinary aspects of the technology are not recognized and active methods are not established to ensure easy communications between the various supporting disciplines," said Robert Guenther, a physicist who is associate director of education at the Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics and Communications Systems.

Pratt’s Fitzpatrick Center is offering the certificate. The program will get underway in the fall semester and is now accepting applications. Pratt also offers graduate certificates in Biological and Biologically Inspired Materials, and Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering.

Guenther said light is at the core of technologies ranging from computing to surgery. He said the field of photonics, which deals with light and optics, is largely defined by what it enables – communications and information technology; health care and the life sciences; optical sensing, light and energy; optics in manufacturing; national defense; manufacturing of optical components and systems; and optics research and education.

“Light influences our lives today in new ways that we could never have imagined just a few decades ago," Guenther said. "As we move into decades ahead, light will play an even more significant role, enabling a revolution in world fiber-optic communications, new modalities in the practice of medicine, a more effective national defense, exploration of the frontiers of science, and much more."