What Are Optoelectronics?

Optoelectronics is a subcategory of electronics concerned with light-detecting or light-emitting devices. Optoelectronics are a rapidly developing field of technology that involves using electronic devices for detection, sourcing, and the manipulation of light energy for generating useful results. More than that, optoelectronic devices are transducers, which means that they can convert one form of energy to another, usually electrical energy into light, and vice versa.

Several devices fall under its ambit since optoelectronics encompasses a wide range of electronic products. Some of their examples include elements and LEDs, image pick-up devices, optical storage, optical fibers, phototransistors, and solar cells. Let us now learn more about the principle of optoelectronics and the devices that utilize them for their functioning.

What Are the Different Types of Optoelectronic Devices?

Optoelectronics (also called optronics) are devices that interact with light. This light can fall either in the visible, ultraviolet, or infrared spectra of light. Semiconductor materials are used extensively in optoelectronics because they have appropriate band gap energies for the absorption of light (for example, visible and near-infrared). Moreover, their electrical conductivity is also often suitable for such applications.

Given below are some examples of optoelectronic devices, along with their respective applications:

1. Photoelectric Cells

Also known as the electric eye, photoelectric cells are devices used to turn light into electrical energy. Photoelectric cells find use in many devices such as calculators, automatic lighting systems, and remote-control systems, among others. These can be categorized into three sub-types: photoemissive, photoconductive, and photovoltaic cells.

?     Photoemissive Cells:

These are made up of quartz or glass tubes containing two electrodes, an anode, and a cathode. A high tension battery and resistance are connected between the anode and cathode. When light falls on the cathode, it emits photoelectrons that get attracted to the anode. From this point onward, a photoelectric current of a small magnitude starts to flow. The volume of this current can be amplified to derive a current of a proper magnitude.

?     Photoconductive Cells

Photoconductive cells are light-sensitive resistors whose resistance reduces with the rising intensity of incident light. A thin, polycrystalline or a single-crystal film of semiconductor material is used to design these devices. Photoconductive cells made of cadmium sulfide are most sensitive to visible light and are also the most commercially viable. Lead sulfide, lead telluride, and lead selenide are the other materials used, albeit much more minor.

?     Photovoltaic Cells

These devices directly convert light energy into electric energy at the atomic level. In addition, these cells use the photoelectric effect which enables them to absorb the incident light’s photons to release electrons. These newly released electrons can then be captured and converted into electricity of the desired magnitude.

2. Light Emitting Diodes

The ‘Light Emitting Diode’ (LED) is essentially a specialized diode with electrical characteristics similar to a PN junction diode. A typical LED will conduct current in one direction while not conducting it in another. LEDs are made of a wafer-thin semiconductor material, doped with certain chemicals to fulfill specific requirements.

3. Integrated Circuits

An integrated circuit (IC), sometimes known as a microelectronic circuit, is a semiconductor layer used for fabricating millions of tiny diodes, resistors, and capacitors, and it is the ultimate structural unit of all modern electronic devices. As the name suggests, it is an integrated system of several miniaturized and interconnected components embedded within a thin semiconductor substance like crystallized silicon.

4. Optical Fibers

An optical fiber is used for data transmission through light pulses that travel along a long fiber typically made of glass or plastic. Metal wires are generally used for communication through optical fibers.

What are the Advantages of Optoelectronics?

Optoelectronics has immensely aided the aerospace and military industries. However, due to restricted spaces within seagoing vessels or tunnels, the transmitted Over-Air RF links may be unable to reach their intended receivers. To overcome this problem, fiber optic networks and optical repeaters are employed. Moreover, optoelectronics provides high bandwidth for communications while consuming less power than traditional technologies.

Wrapping Up

It is an undeniable fact that optoelectronic technology is bound to change the course of the electronic industry in the coming years. As the devices that use this technology are sensitive and require extreme care while handling, sourcing their poor-quality versions might do more harm than good. This is why only trusted names like Purchasing Management 360 should be consulted. We at Purchasing Management 360 have an impressive inventory of board-level electronic components such as resistors, diodes, and integrated circuits, to name just a few. Contact us today to avail the best-in-class optoelectronic devices for your unique needs.


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