Tiny Lasers Lead To Faster, Lighter Electronics
Researchers have successfully made the first room temperature lasers from gallium arsenide nanowires.
AsianScientist (Nov. 29, 2013) – Researchers are one step closer to faster, smaller electronics after successfully making the first room temperature lasers from gallium arsenide nanowires.
“The wires and lasers will lead to much faster, much lighter computers because light travels faster than electrons, allowing us to process data much faster,” said Mr. Dhruv Saxena from the Australian National University Research School of Physics & Engineering.
“The lasers in use at the moment often require a lot of processing steps to produce a nice cavity and mirrors in order to emit laser light,” he said, adding that older lasers also are much bulkier.
Saxena authored a paper in Nature Photonics explaining how to make smaller lasers using gallium arsenide nanowires – solid wires only several billionths of a meter in diameter.
These wires get ‘grown’ in the lab, according to ARC Super Science Fellow Dr. Sudha Mokkapati, a co-author on the study.
“We have a substrate covered in gold particles which act as catalysts, or seeds. We provide gases containing gallium and arsenic and raise the temperature of the substrate up to 750 degrees Celsius. At these temperatures the elements react and nanowires start growing,” said Mokkapati. “It’s crystal growth. The substrate provides the direction of the growth, so they grow straight up, standing vertically on the substrate instead of growing in random directions.”
“The shape of the nanowire confines light along its axis. The ends of the nanowire are like tiny mirrors that bounce light back and forth along the wire and the gallium arsenide amplifies it. After a certain threshold, we get laser light,” said Mokkapati.
Now that gallium arsenide nanowire lasers have been shown to work at room temperature, Saxena and colleagues hope that the research will lead to cheaper, faster and lighter computers, such as in photonic circuits on a chip that enable computing using light.
The article can be found at: Saxena D et al. (2013) Optically pumped room-temperature GaAs nanowire lasers.
Source: Australian National University.
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