Compare the Difference Between Similar Terms

Difference Between Photonics and Electronics

Photonics vs Electronics

Photonics and electronics are two very important fields of studies. Both sciences have considerable contributions in fields such as communication technology, computers, meteorology, medicine and a large fraction of our daily used devices. This article will discuss the two fields of studies, their applications and finally the difference between photonics and electronics.


Electronics is a form of science, engineering and technology, which involves electric circuits consisting of active components. An active component is a component, which is actively capable of controlling the current, voltage or the resistance of the device, by external or internal mechanism. Thyristors and transistors are examples for active components. There is a wide range of applications of electronics. Daily use devices such as televisions, radios, computers, and even microwave ovens consist of electronic circuits. The field of electronics must not be confused with the field of electrical systems. Electrical science studies the generation, distribution, switching, conversion and storage of electrical energy using passive devices. In the beginning, the vacuum tube was used as the diode equivalent object in electronic circuits. Those days the field of electronic was known as the radio science, since the whole purpose of these components was to develop the radio. Later as the invention of semiconductor properties was made, the field of electronics took a new leap forward. With the advances of semiconductor, diodes and transistors were made. These components were lot cheaper, extremely smaller and particularly faster than the vacuum tube components. With this leap forward, the term electronics came into the field, as the purpose was not only the development of the radio but various other devices.


The phrase “photo” refers to light. The field of photonics is the study of light. To be more precise,  science of photonics includes the generation, transmission, emission, signal processing, switching, modulation, amplification, detection and sensing of light. Photonics could be considered as a relatively new branch of science; the term first appeared in 1960s. However, the study of the behaviors of light runs a long way back. The field of photonics must not be confused with the field of optics. However, the discoveries in both classical optics and modern optics have helped the study of photonics to a great length. Photonics originally started as a branch of electronics and applied in electro communication and signal processing. With the invention of LASER diode and optical fibers in 1970s, the science of photonics took a giant leap forward. The field of photonics has a wide range of applications in fields such as telecommunications, information processing, robotics, lighting, metrology, biophotonics, military technology, spectroscopy, holography, agriculture, and visual art.

What is the difference between Electronics and Photonics?

• Electronics is the science of studying the activities of circuits made up of active components.

• Photonics is the science which studies the generation, transmission, emission, signal processing, detection, sensing of light etc.

• Photonics can be considered as a branch of electronics.