There are currently many uses for laser technology and, with the on-going advancements in all technological fields, there are many more to come.
For years research scientists have been working on what they have called “the quest for a smaller laser.” Although this form of research is, as we have said on-going and will remain so, there have been some significant leaps forward in this field which have led to many potential new and exciting uses for laser technology.
One of the most recent advancements is the development of a laser that works at the colours of light used in telecommunications and at room temperature. These minute light sources start to work with no “threshold” which means that they operate far more efficiently than their smaller predecessors; they are in fact only one-fifteenth the size of the light that they produce.
This particular advancement could quite possibly lead to the development of faster computers in general and possibly even optical computing approaches. While the principal uses for these minute lights will be in the computing and telecommunication fields due to the fact that lasers can, in principle, carry massive amounts of data much faster than current semiconductor electronics; there are many other possible uses for these advancements that could directly affect our everyday lives.
We see the use of laser technology in our homes and many of the places that we visit during our daily lives, supermarket checkout scanners, night club light shows and CD players are justa few or them. The fact that the new laser cavities in which light waves are amplified have been reduced close to the size of the light waves themselves opens up many new and interesting possibilities.
Virtually all lasers require that a certain threshold of energy is used; when that threshold is reached the resulting effect allows the light waves to line up and form a laser beam. A lot of recent research has specifically focussed on the confinement of lasers to very small boxes made from various types of metal. Unfortunately these previous attempts proved impractical due to the fact that much of the energy that is put in to create a laser beam – and the light that comes out along with it – is wasted.
Dr MercedehKhajavikhan of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Quotes…
“The trick in the new work is to use not a box but a cylinder, in a so-called co-axial arrangement, most people are familiar with co-axial cables that bring TV signals to their homes, what they may not be very familiar with is that co-axial structures can support a laser beam, no matter how much they are shrunk in size.”
Researchers from the above mentioned UCSD`s department of electrical and computer engineering fabricated a number of the lasers – just 200 millionths of a millimetre high – with a metal rod at their centres, surrounded by a mix of semiconductor materials. Energy was introduced to the minute lasers by means of a much larger laboratory laser and the results were stunning. The researchers found that the minute lasers were able to harness all of the energy introduced and focus it into laser beams of the colour that are used in telecommunications technology. There were no negative issues arising from this test.
These new lasers are not the smallest ever made but due to the fact that they are extremely easy to fabricate combined with their room temperature operation they are a very attractive proposition for future applications.
Leading researchers have quoted…
“We fully expect this work to have major impacts in several areas” – specifically the ferrying of optical information on chips and, eventually, to all-optical computing technology.
“We feel this is just a beginning of a new family of light emitters with superior characteristics, and many advances in this new area are yet to come.”