Difference Between Photonics & Electronics

Photonics and electronics are both significant fields of study with substantial contributions to areas such as communication technology, computers, meteorology, medicine, and various everyday devices. This article will explore these two fields, their applications, and the differences between photonics and electronics.


Electronics is a branch of science, engineering, and technology that involves electric circuits containing active components. Active components are elements capable of actively controlling a device’s current, voltage, or resistance through external or internal mechanisms. Thyristors and transistors are examples of active components. Electronics has a wide range of applications, including daily use devices like televisions, radios, computers, and microwave ovens, all of which consist of electronic circuits. It is essential to distinguish between the fields of electronics and electrical systems. Electrical science studies the generation, distribution, switching, conversion, and storage of electrical energy using passive devices. Initially, vacuum tubes were used as diode equivalents in electronic circuits, and the field was known as radio science. However, with the discovery of semiconductor properties, electronics advanced significantly. Semiconductors allowed for the creation of diodes and transistors, which were cheaper, much smaller, and faster than vacuum tube components. With this advancement, the term “electronics” emerged, as it applied to not only radio development but various other devices.


The term “photo” refers to light, and photonics is the study of light. More specifically, photonics encompasses the generation, transmission, emission, signal processing, switching, modulation, amplification, detection, and sensing of light. Photonics may be considered a relatively new branch of science, with the term first appearing in the 1960s. However, the study of light’s behaviors dates back much further. The field of photonics should not be confused with optics, although discoveries in both classical and modern optics have greatly contributed to photonics. Photonics originally began as a branch of electronics, being applied in electro-communication and signal processing. With the invention of the LASER diode and optical fibers in the 1970s, photonics took a significant leap forward. Photonics has a wide range of applications, including telecommunications, information processing, robotics, lighting, metrology, biophotonics, military technology, spectroscopy, holography, agriculture, and visual art.

Key Takeaways

  • Electronics is the science of studying the activities of circuits made up of active components.
  • Photonics is the science that studies the generation, transmission, emission, signal processing, detection, and sensing of light, among other things.
  • Photonics can be considered a branch of electronics.
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen is a talented writer with a flair for developing captivating content in a range of formats. Her commitment to thorough research and producing top-notch material has contributed to over 4 years of professional writing and editing experience. Outside of work, Maria finds pleasure in solitary activities and immersing herself in nature. Her introspective nature and passion for self-reflection inspire her creativity. She believes that spending time alone and observing the natural world can provide valuable insights and foster personal growth, broadening her perspective as a writer.


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