The Many Uses of Visible Light

New uses for visible light are discovered every day.


1. Visible light, obviously, is used by most animals and people to see. You owe your sense of vision to the fact that there are a whole bunch of visible light waves flying around.

2. Visible light can be used to move energy and data with fiber optic cables. Light travels through the cables much in the same way electricity travels through copper wires, so it can be used to replace electricity.

3. Visible light can be used to check for information, like in bar code scanners. Bar code scanners work by illuminating bar codes with red light and interpreting the result as the ID of an item, like in a grocery store.

4. Visible light can be used to capture images, like in digital cameras. When you open the shutter of a digital camera, light floods the inside of the camera and is detected by an electronic device that also captures and stores the image.

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Above is a fiber optic cable, which transmits visible light through itself to replace electric, copper-wire cables.
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Above is a digital camera, which captures light to create a photograph.
What is Light?
The above video explains what light is, how it relates to other electromagnetic frequencies, and where it is found in, and how it applies to, life.

Wavelength and Frequency

Electromagnetic radiation is classified as visible light when its wavelength is between 390 and 700 nanometers and its frequency is between 430 and 790 terahertz.

New Technology

At Georgia Tech, a new type of solar panel is being made: one that works underground. The tool uses fiber-optic cables to have a tiny solar cell at the end of the cable be above ground, transmitting the light that it gathers to solar power generators that rest below ground. As visible light travels through the fiber-optic cables, the energy it carries is harvested by little devices lining the walls of the cable. This generates energy from the Sun and eliminates the need for massive fields of solar panels, or ugly houses with solar panel roofs.

The technology works because of its use of fiber-optic cables, which harvest energy from the light as it travels through them.

This technology impacts the world by harvesting energy more efficiently, less harmfully to the environment, and in a more aesthetically pleasing way. It no longer takes so much space to gather electricity, it no longer hurts the environment so much, or even at all, and it no longer looks ugly as you do it.

Research began for the technology in November 2009, but even today new advances and modifications are being made, making the technology as new as ever with each passing year.

Above is a link to the Georgia Tech article describing the new technology.
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Above is a picture of a fiber optic cable that can be used to harvest solar energy.
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Above is a diagram of the different parts of a fiber optic cable. In the modified version used in solar harvesting, the light energy is captured as it travels through the cable.


"News." College of Engineering. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.

"What Is Light?" YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.