Adam Walton explores the science of photonics, where the spectrum of light can be manipulated and utilised in a wide range of applications from barcodes to telecommunications.
In this week's programme the subject is photonics, the science of harnessing light. Whenever you scan your supermarket shopping with a barcode reader; or turn on an LED torch; or play a DVD or Blu Ray disc; or if you've ever had laser surgery you're using photonics.
Adam Walton visits Bangor University's Photonics Academy to meet its Director, Ray Davies. When he teaches students Ray's emphasis is on using the principles of photonics to create solutions to everyday problems. Indeed, when the laser was invented fifty years ago it was described as "a solution looking for a problem". It took several years before anybody came up with an application for it!
Ray shows Adam around the photonics laboratory where students have come up with a mind-boggling variety of inventions which create uses for photonics - from a music-reader for people with visual impairments and a device to measure earthquakes to a cooling system for dogs in hot cars.
Adam meets Prof. Alan Shore, Chair of the Photonics Academy. He has led efforts to develop employment and training in photonics and he set up the CAMPUS Project which allows Welsh companies access to specialist photonics equipment in universities. Adam also talks to Ben Flatman, the former Coleg Menai student who won the prize for best prototype design at the Photonics Academy's annual Summer School. Ben came up with an affordable device to measure distances which could be useful for wheelchair users.