Yvonne Carts-Powell

Tiny Plasmon Lasers

In Science on January 17, 2011 at 2:28 am

Tiny lasers make light where you need it..

Light can do a lot of things that electrons do, and in many ways light can do it better: it is faster and can travel through air. The I/O bottleneck that limits how fast chips can work could be eliminated by switching to light.

Electrons, however, are much better at turning corners than light. Creating chips that run on light is possible, but the chips have to be a lot bigger than electronics chips because photons won’t squeeze down as tightly as electrons will and they really don’t like turning.

A laser developed by Ren-Min Ma, Rupert Oulton, and others in Xiang Zhang’s group at the University of California, Berkeley is part of the solution. They’ve made a laser so tiny, that it’s about the size of a protein molecule — smaller than the best squeezed beam of light. If you could put tiny lasers onto a chip, you wouldn’t need to worry so much about turns: you could just generate the light where you need it and let it go in a straight line.

See more in an article I wrote here: Tiny Room-Temperature Plasmon Lasers.

Or check out the paper:

Ren-Min Ma, Rupert F. Oulton, Volker J. Sorger, Guy Bartal, Xiang Zhang, “Room-temperature sub-diffraction-limited plasmon laser by total internal reflection” Nature Materials, doi: 10.1038/nmat2919.

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