Developments in the fields of optics and photonics have had significant impacts on modern life, but many people don’t often realize it.

The internet, smartphones, fast computers, modern cancer-monitoring techniques, and laser-based imaging systems for self-driving cars would be unthinkable without optical science.

On April 13, UCF’s College of Optics & Photonics will open its doors to high school and college students to demonstrate how this field of study is making life easier today and the exciting possibilities just around the corner.

On Optics Day, students will have the opportunity to see labs where UCF faculty and students are generating vivid colors with quantum dots, developing fluorescent probes for medical use, and creating switchable lenses that change the location of images in virtual and augmented reality, among many other futuristic technologies.

“Things that once appeared in sci-fi movies are quickly approaching reality, in large part thanks to optics and photonics science,” said MJ Soileau, a professor of optics and photonics, electrical and computer engineering, and physics. “Optics and photonics enables 15 percent of the growth domestic product of the USA, but that means the future will need experts in this area to maintain the technology, and to push us even further. That’s why we are having an Optics Day at CREOL (Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers in the College of Optics & Photonics). It’s a way to show kids why this is a really cool area of study to follow. Fantastic job opportunities wait for our students.”

UCF has one of the best graduate programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. The high educational standards in combination with outstanding research opportunities and world-class faculty makes CREOL an ideal place to learn from the best, said Stefan Gausmann, a Ph.D. optics student and one of the organizers of the event. CREOL also hosts one of the only six undergraduate photonic engineering programs in the nation.

The celebration runs from 1 to 4 p.m. and will include lab tours, optics demonstrations, talks and question-and-answer sessions with CREOL students and alumni.