New, powerful microscopic laser traps energy like noise-canceling headphones

So-called 'nanolasers' are smaller than the wavelength of the light they produce.


Physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) have developed nanolasers- powerful microscopic lasers that are smaller than the wavelength of the light they produce. Unlike existing lasers, the nanolaser is powerful enough that it can be used in smaller-scale devices.

As physicists reported, nanolasers have a wide range of applications: They can be used in a huge variety of medical, surgical, industrial, and military uses.

Physicists developed this powerful microscopic laser using an approach called photonics. They used a clever trick to modify conventional lasers.

Conventional lasers consist of some form of light amplification device placed between two mirrors. When the light bounces back and forth between the two mirrors, it becomes brighter and brighter.

Instead of using mirrors, physicists developed a device that functions as inside-out noise-canceling headphones. The device also captures the energy and prevents it from escaping. The captured light energy then builds up into a strong, well-shaped laser.

When it comes to the laser efficiency- it requires only a small amount of energy to start the laser shining- with a threshold about 50 times lower than any previously reported nanolaser and narrow beam.

Lead researcher Professor Yuri Kivshar said, “The new laser builds on a quantum mechanical discovery made almost 100 years ago.”

“This mathematical solution was published by Wigner and von Neumann in 1929, in a paper that seemed very strange at the time – it was not explained for many years.”

“Now, this 100-year-old discovery is driving tomorrow’s technology.”

Journal Reference:
  1. Hwang, MS., Lee, HC., Kim, KH., et al. Ultralow-threshold laser using super-bound states in the continuum. Nat Commun 12, 4135 (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-24502-0
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