‘Flying saucer’ quantum dots hold secret to brighter, better lasers

From nanowerk.com:

Fresh insights into living cells, brighter video projectors and more accurate medical tests are just three of the innovations that could result from a new way of fabricating lasers.

The new method, developed by an international research team from U of T Engineering, Vanderbilt University, the Los Alamos National Laboratory and others, produces continuous laser light that is brighter, less expensive and more tuneable than current devices by using nanoparticles known as quantum dots.

“We’ve been working with quantum dots for more than a decade,” says Ted Sargent, a professor in The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at U of T. “They are more than five thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair, which enables them to straddle the worlds of quantum and classical physics and gives them useful optical properties.”

“Quantum dots are well-known bright light emitters,” says Alex Voznyy, a senior research associate in Sargent’s lab. “They can absorb a lot of energy and re-emit it at a particular frequency, which makes them a particularly suitable material for lasers.”

By carefully controlling the size of the quantum dots, the researchers in Sargent’s lab can ‘tune’ the frequency, or colour, of the emitted light to any desired value. By contrast, most commercial lasers are limited to one specific frequency, or a very small range, defined by the materials they are made from.

The ability to produce a laser of any desired frequency from a single material would give a boost to scientists looking to study diseases at the level of tissues or individual cells by offering new tools to probe biochemical reactions.

 

Read more at nanowerk.com

Image Credit:  Dr. Alex Voznyy/U of T Engineering

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