Breakthroughs are coming thick and fast – or should that be thin and fast – in the field of nanoscale lasers.
It wasn’t even a month ago that we reported on the development of a laser emitting ‘metal-semiconductor-metal sandwich’, made up of a semiconductor as thin as 80 nanometers laying between 20-nanometer dielectric layers. But now researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have reached a new milestone in laser physics by creating the world’s smallest semiconductor laser, capable of generating visible light in a space smaller than a single protein molecule.
The researchers say their breakthrough marks a major advance toward applications in the biomedical, communications and computing fields. These include the development of nanolasers that can probe, manipulate and characterize DNA molecules; optics-based telecommunications many times faster than current technology; and optical computing in which light replaces electronic circuitry with a corresponding leap in speed and processing power, but with greater power efficiency.
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