Jun 9, 2020

From the desk of Zemax’s CTO: The role of optics during a global crisis

Category: Industry Trends

The last few months have been challenging for all of us. The issues that I have observed have reinforced my belief in the importance of science and education to help us through these difficult times.

The role of science in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic is obvious. The need to find a vaccine for this terrible disease is urgent, and I am encouraged to see how the best scientific minds in the world are working tirelessly on a solution. Even more encouraging is the understanding that collaboration and partnership are key to this success, and that pharmaceutical companies are taking the need for global collaboration to heart[1].

Optics and photonics have long played an important role in life sciences and medicine. However, this role is expanding beyond traditional imaging system applications like microscopes and endoscopes. New technologies playing a significant part in helping tackle the pandemic include:

UV lighting to sterilize medical and personal protective equipment[2]

IR bolometer arrays and thermometers to remotely measure body temperature to provide safer patient screening[3]

Fluorescence markers for real-time disease detection[4]

Laser diagnostics for evaluating transmission mechanisms[5]

    The pandemic has also highlighted the global need for better virtual communication and connectivity. Optical technologies are important to address these needs as well. Remote sensing and autonomy are playing a growing role in industrial and medical settings[6], and these solutions often require the use of wide-angle camera sensors, radar, and lidar systems. Photonic technologies (such as active optical cables and optical transceivers) provide the infrastructure needed to create seamless connectivity between these systems as a part of the industrial Internet of Things (IoT)[7]. Such technologies also form the backbone of data centers being used to process the vast amount of information being collected for analysis during the crisis, that allow us to quickly understand the disease and determine the best means to fight it. These technologies are also supporting the push to 5G that will provide better global communication[8]., whether to support increasing work-from-home or telemedicine.

    I am proud to work at Zemax where we are contributing to the global fight against COVID-19, providing tools to scientists and engineers to rapidly simulate and prototype new techniques and devices needed to tackle the ongoing crisis. Generating new solutions quickly and efficiently will be key to addressing the current pandemic, and I know the global scientific community is up to the challenge.

    Watch this space…over the next few weeks we will be featuring innovative solutions from customers using Zemax’s leading optical design suite of products. 

    Sanjay Gangadhara
    CTO, Zemax


    [1] https://www.astrazeneca.com/media-centre/articles/2020/astrazeneca-takes-next-steps-towards-broad-and-equitable-access-to-oxford-universitys-potential-covid-19-vaccine.html
    [2] https://www.bioopticsworld.com/biophotonics-tools/article/14173860/uv-lightactivated-coating-for-masks-could-trap-kill-covid19