The International Year of Light

Australian Institute of Physics, Media releases

Starting 1 January 2015, leaders available for interviews now

Celebrating the power of light to transform society:

  • From the Nobel Prize to your hardware store – the LED lighting revolution
  • The laser, an invention with no practical applications that now powers the internet, is printing jet engines, searching for space junk, and treating cancer
  • Solar lights empowering refugees, solar cells cheaper than coal.

Sydney’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks will mark the beginning of the International Year of Light. It’s a UN-endorsed celebration of light and of light enabled technologies that includes hundreds of organisations and thousands of events worldwide.

Scientists are available for interview around Australia from 28 December to 1 January to discuss and celebrate our changing use of light.

“We live in the Light Age – where light doesn’t ‘just’ guide, feed, and warm us. Light enabled technologies are transforming entertainment, medicine, homes, transport and manufacturing,” says Ken Baldwin, the chair of the International Year of Light committee in Australia.

LED lights are replacing old globes on the shelves of hardware stores. They’ll last decades and use a fraction of the power. It’s thanks to the work of the 2014 winners of the Nobel Prize for Physics. Red and green LEDs were invented over 50 years ago. But it took another 30 years to create the blue LED – the critical step that enables efficient lights, LED TV screens and much more. The LED light revolution is only just beginning. Soon our windows will deliver natural light at day and LED light at night. And most Christmas lights are now LED.

The Nobel Prize for Chemistry went to scientists who invented new forms of microscopy which are now allowing us to watch individual molecules as they interact with our immune cells – a gluten protein kicking off a bad immune response, a cancer protein alerting the immune system to a threat. Soon we’ll be able to fine tune the response.

The first laser was invented 54 years ago. It had no practical applications. Now it carries almost all the world’s internet traffic, is embedded in computers, cars, DVD players, and surgical instruments, and is now becoming a manufacturing tool. Monash University and CSIRO have printed a small jet engine using laser powered 3D printers.

Solar lights are bringing security and education to families in refugee camps and remote communities – replacing dangerous and toxic kerosene lamps. And solar cells are steadily improving in efficiency – outclassing coal on price and environmental and health impacts.

Astronomers are creating new more powerful telescopes on Earth and in space to push back to see the Universe light up a few millennia after the Big Bang. They’re also hoping that LEDs bring darker skies with less light pollution.

The Year in Australia will see cultural events like VIVID, Enlighten, Light in Winter join forces with the science world to celebrate all things light from optics to astronomy to art and architecture.

CSIRO, universities, Questacon, National Science Week, the Australian Science Teachers Association and many others will be creating events and educational resources.

More about The International Year of Light at and the Australian site at and follow us on Twitter at @LightYearAU

For further information and interviews with the scientists leading the Year in Australia contact Niall Byrne,, 0417 131977.