Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

World’s smallest microlaser could revolutionize chip technology

Date:
April 6, 2010
Source:
ETH Zurich
Summary:
Physicists have developed a new kind of laser that shatters the boundaries of possibility: it is by far the smallest electrically pumped laser in the world and one day could revolutionize chip technology.

The centerpiece of the new microlaser is the electric resonator, consisting of two semi-circular capacitors that are connected via an inductor (here, a scanning electron microscope image). The color intensity represents the strength of the electrical field; the color itself, the respective polarity.
Credit: Photo: ETH Zurich

ETH-Zurich physicists have developed a new kind of laser that shatters the boundaries of possibility: it is by far the smallest electrically pumped laser in the world and one day could revolutionize chip technology.

It took a good one and a half years from the idea to its inception; a time when Christoph Walther, a PhD student in the Quantum Optoelectronics Group at ETH Zurich, spent days and nights in the FIRST lab. This was because ETH Zurich's state-of-the-art clean-room facility provided him with the ideal conditions to set a new record in laser technology: the physicist teamed up with four colleagues and developed the smallest electrically pumped laser in the world to date.

Much smaller than the wavelength

It's 30 micrometers long -- that's 30 millionths of a meter -- eight micrometers high and has a wavelength of 200 micrometers. This makes the laser considerably smaller than the wavelength of the light it emits -- a scientific first. After all, lasers normally can't be smaller than their wavelength, the reason being that in conventional lasers light waves cause an optic resonator to oscillate -- much like acoustic waves do to the soundbox of a guitar. In doing so, the light waves basically "travel" back and forth between two mirrors. The principle only works if the mirrors are larger than the wavelength of the laser. Consequently, normal lasers are limited in terms of their size.

Other researchers have endeavored to push the boundaries; "But by developing a completely new laser concept we were able to go quite a way below the limit," says Christoph Walther.

Inspired by electronics

In developing their laser concept, Christoph Walther and some of his team mates under his supervisor Jιrτme Faist, professor and head of ETH Zurich's Institute of Quantum Electronics, were inspired by electronics. "Instead of the usual optic resonators, we use an electrical resonant circuit made up of an inductor and two capacitors," explains Walther. The light is effectively "captured" in it and induced into self-sustaining electromagnetic oscillations on the spot using an optical amplifier.

"This means the size of the resonator is no longer limited by the wavelength of the light and can in principle -- and that's what makes it so special -- be scaled down to whatever size you want." This prospect especially makes the microlaser interesting for chip manufacturers -- as an optic alternative to the transistors. "If we manage to approximate the transistors in terms of size using the microlasers, one day they could be used to build electro-optic chips with an extremely high concentration of electronic and optic components," says Christoph Walther. These could one day considerably speed up the exchange of data on microprocessors.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ETH Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Walther et al. Microcavity Laser Oscillating in a Circuit-Based Resonator. Science, 2010; 327 (5972): 1495 DOI: 10.1126/science.1183167

Cite This Page:

ETH Zurich. "World’s smallest microlaser could revolutionize chip technology." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100405132251.htm>.
ETH Zurich. (2010, April 6). World’s smallest microlaser could revolutionize chip technology. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100405132251.htm
ETH Zurich. "World’s smallest microlaser could revolutionize chip technology." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100405132251.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) — The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) — The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) — President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) — Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins