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How Light is Used in Technology


Light is a form of energy, in the same way, that force, heat, and sound are. This means that light can be harvested and converted into other forms of energy and used within electronic devices to perform specific functions. Furthermore, our electronic devices can output light and use this to improve our experiences with technology in interesting ways.

Light is being used in many awesome ways, such as helping us reduce our carbon footprint, as well as keeping us more secure. Here are some of the ways light is used in technology as both an input and an output.

Solar Panels

Perhaps one of the most well-known uses of light in our electronics is its functionality within solar panels and solar-powered devices. With solar panels, they absorb the natural sunlight and convert this into electrical energy. They’re mainly used on the roof of people’s houses or in solar farms in bright and warm environments, and are one of the most prominent forms of renewable energy that’s helping humanity reduce its carbon footprint.

Many households are starting to install solar panels onto their roofs, as it can help them negate the need to use as much power from the natural grid, meaning they can save on their energy bills.

There are also handheld devices that are also solely powered by solar energy, such as torches and flashlights that charge up in the sun and then use the stored energy to power themselves when in the dark.

Security Systems

Security systems use a multitude of ways to detect the presence of people on your property, such as UV light and ultraviolet, but many also react to the amount of light being detected. This is done through the implementation of a phototransistor. These components detect the changes in light and can be useful for determining if something has blocked a light source. These devices are used to convert light signals into amplified electrical signals which can be used to trip an alarm or make a CCTV camera start recording video.


A lot of electronical devices previously had to rely on natural light to make sure displays were possible to be clearly seen. This was cheaper, but it also meant that technology couldn’t be used in the dark or in poor visibility, making them hard to use. That’s why now, many pieces of technology deploy backlighting to make screens easier to see, while also reducing glare and other things that can obscure a screen.


The streetlights that illuminate our highways and sidewalks during nighttime utilize the same type of phototransistor technology to make sure the lights are only on when they need to be. In many streetlights, this component is attached to the circuity and is wired to close the circuit when it starts to detect a low threshold of natural light, thus turning the streetlamp on. It then opens when light returns, which helps make these lamps economical as they will not be in use when they’re not needed. It also eliminates the need for someone to manually switch the lights on, automating the task and making it a lot easier to do.

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