Nanolaser enables on-chip photonics
Lasers play essential roles in large technologies, from medical therapies to steel cutters to electronic gadgets. But to accommodate complicated needs in computation, communications, imaging and sensing, scientists are essay to emanate ever-smaller laser systems that also devour reduction energy.
Most materials from which on-chip lasers can be built are not compatible with silicon substrates, but these researchers has high hopes for their atomically thin (just 0.7 nanometers thick) laser can be integrated onto standard silicon chips.
The new nanolaser uses a tungsten-based semiconductor usually 3 atoms thick as a “gain material” that emits light. Creating a nano laser out from it required building a optical-confinement cavity to intensify the light, fashioned from a single layer of the tungsten-based material. The gain of the material can be carefully tuned and it uses in the standard frequencies for on-chip, between chip and between board communications.
As the thinnest semiconductor today, it is super energy efficient and can be electro-modulated with a signal of only 27 nanowatts, making it ideal for on-chip communications. The new material has also excited other groups who are busy building light-emitting diodes (LEDs), solar cells and even transistors using this new semiconductor.
Next the group will carefully characterize the material as well as experiment possibly improving it further by using silicon nitride.