Published on 15/05/2024
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Aston University to make light of the science of photonics
  • Research into the science and technology of light - photonics – to be celebrated
  • Growth of photonics contributes to improvements in medicine, the internet and autonomous vehicles 
  • Building on the Aston University campus is to be lit up on 16 May.

Aston University will be seeing red, green and blue on 16 May to mark UNESCO’s International Day of Light.

The University will light up its library in the three primary colours of the visible spectrum to highlight that the study of light has revolutionised society and has shaped humans’ understanding of the universe.

Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) is one of the world’s leading centres that researches the science, technology and applications of light.

The Institute has a track record of achievements which range from medical lasers to the high-speed optical fibre communications technology that powers the internet and the digital economy.

Professor Sergei Turitsyn, director of AIPT, said “All of us benefit from photonics but some people are not even fully aware that it is photonics technology that impacts their lives. 

“Photonics is the enabling technology that affects our lives in many ways, from increasing the speed and capacity of the internet and use of lasers in manufacturing, to numerous medical devices and safeguarding our food by monitoring crops to ensure quality. 

“Many constantly emerging services and applications are based on light technology, for instance optics is used in virtual reality headsets to create immersive visual environments, in the operation of our mobiles, in the LIDARs in the autonomous vehicles to avoid collisions, just to mention few examples.

“We educate the next generation of researchers in the field of photonics and our scientific breakthroughs in the lab have real-world impact through our industrial collaborations with large companies such as Airbus, IBM, Infinera, Nokia Bell Labs, and many small to medium size enterprises.”

The International Day of Light was founded by UNESCO and is held annually on 16 May because it is the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960.

The day was established to put the role light plays in the spotlight, not just in science but also culture and art, education and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications and energy. 

The library on the Aston University campus will be lit up alternately in red, green and blue from 8pm till 6am the following day. The colours were chosen because they make up the most commonly used primary colour mixing model. 

Notes to editors

About Aston University
For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.
Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.
Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.
Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.
For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Nicola Jones, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7825 342091 or email:


Sue Smith,
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Sam Cook,
Press and Communications Manager


Nicola Jones,
Press and Communications Manager


Helen Tunnicliffe,
Press and Communications Manager


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