Near-Thresholdless Laser Works at Room Temperature

Thresholdless laser at room temperatures (Source: As. RUVIS)

Thresholdless laser at room temperatures (Source: As. RUVIS)

Researchers at the University of Valencia are working on a new semiconductor laser that is up to 1000 times more energy-efficient than laser devices currently in use, earning them a spot in Optica journal’s top 30 breakthroughs in 2015. At the end of last year, researchers at the University of Valencia are working alongside experts from Madrid and Zurich to develop and test an ultra-low-threshold laser device that operates at room temperatures. Such a device would have the potential to increase computing speeds by several orders of magnitude.

The lasing threshold is the minimum amount of energy required in order for a laser device to begin emitting light. For now it is enough to know that the lower this threshold, the more efficient the laser device, and that “thresholdless lasers have been a holy grail since the laser’s invention.”

The device tested at the UV’s Optoelectronic Devices and Materials Unit (UMDO) is based on the optical emission of semiconductor nanostructures embedded in a photonic crystal microcavity, emitting in the 1286 nanometre wavelength, the second spectral window in optical fibre telecommunications where inefficient temporal dispersion is low. Its lasing threshold is very low, near-thresholdless. But more than that it operates at room temperature or above, rather than the -296 ºC needed by existing near-thresholdless laser devices. This fact alone significantly reduces running costs and makes its incorporation into production lines a practical reality.

Taking all three factors into account — wavelength, threshold and operation temperature — it tests at between 100 and 1000 times more energy-efficient than standard laser devices. A laser device of this kind has many applications. Easily integrated into fibre optic circuitry, it will enable the development of massively faster computers, advanced data storage technologies and ultra-sensitive biosensors.

This research is the joint effort of experts at the UV’s Optoelectronic Devices and Materials Unit UMDO, the Institute of Microelectronics of Madrid (IMM, part of the Spanish National Research Council CSIC) and the Laboratory for Solid State Physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. (Source: As. RUVID)

Reference: I. Prieto et al.: Near thresholdless laser operation at room temperature, Optica 2 (1), 66 (2015); DOI: 10.1364/optica.2.000066

Links: Optoelectronic Materials and Devices (UMDO), Materials Science Institute (ICMUV), Universitat de ValènciaPhysics of New Materials, Physics Dept. ETH Zurich


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