Taking inspiration from complex natural phenomena such as chaos and unpredictability, as well as highly optimized organisms constituted by multitudes of interacting cells, evolutionary photonics aims at developing new sustainable technologies for renewable energy production, bioimaging, and scalable materials with advanced optical functionalities. These photonics systems integrate complex dielectric and/or metallic units into large networks of heterogeneous elements, which are entirely controlled by acting on the interactions among the different units that compose the network. This Review presents a selection of recent results in this research field, discussing advantages, challenges and perspectives of this technology in addressing global challenges in several scientific areas, ranging from broadband light energy harvesting, to scalable clean water production, early‐stage cancer detection, sensing, artificial intelligence, invisible structures, and to large‐scale optical materials with programmable functionality and robust structural coloration.
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