Tiny lasers light up future electronics

Nov 18, 2013
Pattern of light emitted from a nanowire laser.

(Phys.org) —Faster, smaller electronics are one step closer with researchers from The Australian National University 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 , allowing us to process data much faster," explains Mr Dhruv Saxena from the 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 light," explains Saxena, who went on to explain these older lasers also are much bulkier.

Saxena authored a paper in Nature Photonics explaining how to make smaller lasers using nanowires – solid wires only several billionths of a metre in diameter.

These wires get 'grown' in the lab, says Dr Sudha Mokkapati, an ANU-based ARC Super Science Fellow who co-authored the paper with Saxena.

"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°C. At these temperatures the elements react and start growing."

Nanowires standing on substrate.

"It's crystal growth," adds Saxena. "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," says Dr Mokkapati.

Now that gallium arsenide nanowire lasers have been shown to work at , Saxena hopes this research will lead to cheaper, faster and lighter computers.

"We hope our lasers could be used in photonic circuits on a chip that enable computing using ," concludes Professor Chennupati Jagadish, who leads this research.

Explore further: Nanowires grown on graphene have surprising structure

More information: Optically pumped room-temperature GaAs nanowire lasers, DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2013.303

Related Stories

Nanowires grown on graphene have surprising structure

Apr 23, 2013

(Phys.org) —When a team of University of Illinois engineers set out to grow nanowires of a compound semiconductor on top of a sheet of graphene, they did not expect to discover a new paradigm of epitaxy.

Team demonstrates quantum dots that assemble themselves

Apr 16, 2013

(Phys.org) —Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other labs have demonstrated a process whereby quantum dots can self-assemble at optimal locations in nanowires, a breakthrough ...

Recommended for you

Robotics goes micro-scale

22 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The development of light-driven 'micro-robots' that can autonomously investigate and manipulate the nano-scale environment in a microscope comes a step closer, thanks to new research from the ...

High power laser sources at exotic wavelengths

Apr 14, 2014

High power laser sources at exotic wavelengths may be a step closer as researchers in China report a fibre optic parametric oscillator with record breaking efficiency. The research team believe this could ...

Combs of light accelerate communication

Apr 14, 2014

Miniaturized optical frequency comb sources allow for transmission of data streams of several terabits per second over hundreds of kilometers – this has now been demonstrated by researchers of Karlsruhe ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Robotics goes micro-scale

(Phys.org) —The development of light-driven 'micro-robots' that can autonomously investigate and manipulate the nano-scale environment in a microscope comes a step closer, thanks to new research from the ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...