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Multinational team develops world's smallest semiconductor laser

2012/07/30 16:37:24

Taipei, July 30 (CNA) Researchers from Taiwan, the United States and China have jointly developed the world's smallest semiconductor laser device, an achievement that could pave the way for breakthroughs in optical computing, researchers said Monday.

The nanolaser device, which is 30 nanometers wide and invisible to the naked eye, "can operate below the 3-D diffraction limit," Shangjr Gwo, a physics professor from Taiwan's National Tsing Hua University, said at a press conference in Taipei.

The device has been miniaturized so that it can now resemble the size of transistors in integrated circuits but with the potential of being over 1,000 times faster than transistors, said Gwo.

The miniaturization of semiconductor lasers could help the development of faster, low-power photon electronics such as optical computers, communication systems and microscopes for studying diseases, said Gwo.

"The 21st century is the century of light," Gwo added.

However, he noted that it could still be years before the technology can be applied to electronic products, and said that problems such as the current high power consumption of the laser device have yet to be overcome.

The team of researchers combined their years of work on an atomically smooth epitaxial silver film and an indium gallium nitride (InGaN) core that acts as gain medium to develop the device.

The team consists of 15 researchers and Ph.D. students, eight of whom are from National Tsing Hua University, and the research was funded by Taiwan's National Science Council.

Others members are from Taiwan's National Chiao Tung University, the University of Texas at Austin and China's Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The results of the study were published in the July 27 issue of Science magazine in the United States.

(By Christie Chen)