South Australia is poised to become a major global player in the incredibly fast growing photonics industry, estimated to be worth over US$500 billion and forecast to grow to over $US600 billion by 2020.

Lighting the Way, Global Opportunities for the Photonics Industry in South Australia takes stock of South Australia’s existing photonics capabilities within research and industry, and examines current and future global market opportunities.

South Australia already ranks in the worldwide top ten in optical fibre sensing, with significant potential to move up the global rankings, the report says.

The report identifies four market segments that should be targeted by South Australian companies:

  1. Biophotonics – imaging and detection for biomedicine, agriculture and the environment
  2. Lasers – for industrial, mining, military and biomedical applications
  3. Fibre optic sensors – for environmental, security, military, and resource extraction
  4. Speciality optical fibres and materials – for optical communications in harsh environment or hazardous applications, such as the oil and gas industry, mining and marine sectors as well as bio-medical laser delivery systems and high power lasers to cut steel.

Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said while many of us may not realise it, we all use photonics enabled devices every day, from lasers, sensors and optical fibres in consumer electronics, to industries such as food and wine, defence technologies and mining.

“This report shows that while South Australia is already in the top ten in optical fibre sensing, there is enormous potential for us to become a world-leader in photonics, providing a huge economic windfall for the state and creating new jobs.

“Photonics is the electronics of the 21st century and could be a game-changer for South Australian companies, by using our well-focussed investment in researchers and facilities to create jobs and economic benefits for the state.”

The South Australian Government has supported the development of the photonics industry since 2013, with the establishment of the Photonics Catalyst Program which supported the development of innovative photonics products through collaborations between industry and researchers.

Photonics is the use of light-based technologies in devices such as lasers, sensors and optical fibres, and is utilised across multiple sectors including resources, medical, defence, food and the environment

The report was prepared for the State Government by Dr Robert Lieberman, Dr David Krohn and Dr Alexis Mendez, globally renowned leaders in the photonics industry with support from the University of Adelaide’s Institute of Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS).

To view the report, download Lighting the Way – Global Opportunities for the Photonics Industry in South Australia (PDF).