Scientists create world's tiniest laser

Aug. 24, 2009 at 1:38 PM
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Aug. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they have created the tiniest laser since lasers were invented 50 years ago.

Researchers at Purdue, Norfolk State and Cornell universities said their achievement might lead to many innovations, including superfast computers that use light instead of electrons to process information, advanced sensors and imaging.

The new device -- called a "spaser" -- is the first of its kind to emit visible light and represents a critical component for possible future technologies based on "nanophotonic" circuitry, said Purdue Professor Vladimir Shalaev.

The researchers said their study confirms earlier work by physicists David Bergman at Tel Aviv University and Mark Stockman at Georgia State University, who first proposed the spaser concept in 2003.

"This work represents an important milestone that may prove to be the start of a revolution in nanophotonics, with applications in imaging and sensing at a scale that is much smaller than the wavelength of visible light," said Professor Timothy Sands, director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue.

The research that also included Norfolk State scientists Mikhail Noginov, Guohua Zhu and Akeisha Belgrave; Purdue's Reuben Bakker and Evgenii Narimanov, and Cornell's Samantha Stout, Erik Herz, Teeraporn Suteewong and Ulrich Wiesner appears in the online early edition of the journal Nature.

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