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The term optoelectronics (sometimes also called optronics or optotronics ) arose from the combination of optics and semiconductor electronics and, in the broadest sense, includes all products and processes that enable the conversion of electronically generated data and energies into light emission and vice versa.

Background is z. B. the attempt to combine the advantages of electronic data preparation and processing with the advantages of the fast and electromagnetically and electrostatically undisturbed broadband transmission properties of light . At the same time, this also includes the conversion of electrical energy into light and vice versa on the basis of electronic semiconductor technology , whereby the light generated can either propagate in free space or in solid, translucent media ( optical waveguides such as fiber optic cables) or as in optical storage technology can also be used to store electronically generated data.

Optoelectronics has become an integral part of everyday life because it contains components such as B. Lasers , screens , computers, optical storage and data carriers .

Optoelectronic components

Different light emitting diodes
Laser diode
First and still valid system proposal for optoelectronic message transmission by means of laser diode , glass fiber and photodiode by Manfred Börner , 1965

Optoelectronic components are components that act as an interface between electrical and optical components or devices that contain such components. This mostly (but not exclusively) refers to microelectronic components that function on the basis of semiconductors .

The components of optoelectronics can be divided into actuators (transmitters) and detectors (receivers). Optoelectronic actuators are semiconductor components that generate light from electricity, i.e. laser and light emitting diodes . The emission spectrum can be in the visible as well as in the invisible ( UV or infrared ) spectral range. Optoelectronic detectors are the reversing components of the actuators, i.e. photoresistor , photodiode (also solar cell ) and phototransistor . Light sensors can also be built as an integrated circuit , e.g. B. as a CCD sensor . Also photomultipliers are counted for optoelectronics. Are actuator and detector operated as a system, this results in an optical sensor, a so-called visual sensor . The subject is also referred to as optical sensors . The simple combination of an actuator and detector in one component is called an optocoupler .

In addition to these, there are other components that are required for the transmission, amplification or modulation of signals. The transmission of optical signals can take place through free space or in connection with waveguides and optical circuits (see integrated optics ). Optical modulators are components that imprint (modulate) a defined characteristic on light. This can be, for example, a temporal or spatial amplitude or phase variation. These include, for example, optical amplifiers , optoelectronic multiplexers and magnetorestrictive optical micro-reflectors.

Course of study

Optoelectronics is a branch of engineering that can be studied either as an independent course or as a specialization in another course ( technical informatics , technical physics , electrical engineering , nanoengineering / nanostructural science , microsystem technology ) at universities .

Study objectives:

  • Design and optimization of complex optical systems e.g. B. with the help of relevant design software
  • Understanding the interaction of optical waves with inorganic and organic matter
  • Understanding the origin and generation of light with specific properties, development and manufacture of new types of light sources, adaptive lighting technology
  • Acquisition of good physiological and ergonomic knowledge for the development and implementation of new concepts in lighting technology


  • Manfred Börner, Reinhard Müller, Roland Schiek: Elements of the integrated optics. Teubner, 1990, ISBN 3-519-06130-9 .
  • Marius Grundmann: Nano-optoelectronics - concepts, physics and devices. Springer, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-540-43394-5 .
  • Safa O. Kasap: Optoelectronics and photonics - principles and practices. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River 2001, ISBN 0-201-61087-6 .
  • Michael A. Parker: Physics of optoelectronics. Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton 2005, ISBN 0-8247-5385-2 .
  • Thomas Petruzzellis: Optoelectronics, fiber optics, and laser cookbook - more than 150 projects and experiments. McGraw-Hill, New York 1997, ISBN 0-07-049839-3 .
  • Kiyomi Sakai: Terahertz optoelectronics. Springer, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-540-20013-4 .

Individual evidence

  1. Patent DE1254513 : Multi-stage transmission system for pulse code modulation represented messages .. Published on November 16, 1967 , inventor: Manfred Börner.