Optoelectronics covers all “light-enabled” components and equipment.

The terms Electro-optics, Optoelectronics and Photonics are used to describe these subjects with no clear and universally accepted differentiation between the terms. Although Photonics could be restricted to the manipulation of Photons and Optoelectronics the combining of Photons and electrons with Electro-optics is a special case of Optoelectronics.

The most probable introduction of the terms is time dependant, Electro-optic was used in the 1960s especially by the military and indeed defence related industry still uses the term.

Optoelectronics appeared in the 1980s evidenced by its use by the Optoelectronics Industry and Technology Development Association (OITDA) of Japan founded in 1980, Photonics gaining common usage in the late 1990s.