The International Commission for Optics, ICO, was created in 1947 and was accepted as an Affiliated Commission of the International Commission for Pure and Applied Physics in 2005. Its objective is to contribute, on an international basis, to the progress and diffusion of knowledge in Optics and Photonics. To most efficiently represent the international community of optical research and engineering, ICO has established two categories of members:
- Territorial Committee Members, each representing the Optics community in a defined geographical area.
- International Society Members, which are “learned societies” open to individual members and active in Optics at an international level, in particular through their role as organizers of the major Optics meetings.
At present, there are 51 Territorial Committee Members and 6 International Society Members.
The Bureau conducts activity between the triennial ICO Congresses ; the latest congress was held in Sydney, Australia, July 2008 and the next one will be held in Puebla, Mexico August 2011.
ICO has established a Committee for the Regional Development of Optics and has tight contacts with the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy, which organizes an annual Optics Winter College. It maintains a Proceedings Donation Program, an Invited Lecturer Program, both for the benefit of the regional development of Optics. It has established three awards
- the ICO Prize, for noteworthy contributions to Optics made before the recipient has reached the age of 40.
- The Galileo Galilei Award for outstanding contribution to Optics made under comparatively unfavorable circumstances.
- The ICO/ICTP Award, for young scientists under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions to Optics in developing countries.
ICO has established a Committee on Education and participates in the steering committee of selected international topical meeting series, including the Education and Training in Optics and Photonics event.