At RIKEN in Japan, physicists have made fundamental design improvements to compact X-ray lasers, allowing the construction of more compact, ultra-short wavelength free-electron lasers suitable for observing materials at the atomic scale. Normally, studies at this level of detail require large synchrotrons. The new laser design should be cheaper to build, as well.
X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) produce higher-power laser pulses over a broader...
An international team of physicists working at King Abdullah University of Science and...
By introducing high tensile strain, a research group in Switzerland has rendered germanium, which is normally unsuitable for lasers, capable of emitting 25 times more photons than in its relaxed state. This change alters the optical properties of the material and is enough to allow the construction of lasers from this material. This is valuable because germanium is highly compatible with silicon.
A standard camera takes flat, 2D pictures. To get 3D information, such as the distance to a far-away object, scientists can bounce a laser beam off the object and measure how long it takes the light to travel back to a detector. The technique, called time-of-flight (ToF) has a relatively short range and struggles to image objects that do not reflect laser light well. A team of Scotland-based physicists has recently tackled these limitations.
Electrically powered nanoscale lasers have been able to operate effectively only in cold temperatures. Researchers in the field have been striving to enable them to perform reliably at room temperature, a step that would pave the way for their use in a variety of practical applications. Recently, Arizona State University scientists have made that leap.
At the Photonics West conference in San Francisco this week, the Germany-based company Nanoscribe showcased the world’s fastest 3D printer of micro- and nanostructures. With this printer, small 3D objects, often smaller than the diameter of a human hair, can be manufactured with minimum time consumption and maximum resolution. The printer is based on a new laser lithography method.
Existing optical beamsteering assemblies for technologies like LADAR, which scans a field of view with a laser to determine distance, are typically mechnical, bulky, slow, and inaccurate. In an effort to design a better, scalable technology, DARPA researchers have recently demonstrated the most complex optical phased array ever built onto a 2D chip.
A Northwestern University research team has found a way to manufacture single laser devices that are the size of a virus particle and that operate at room temperature. These plasmonic nanolasers could be readily integrated into silicon-based photonic devices, all-optical circuits, and nanoscale biosensors.
An international research group has recently demonstrated integrated arrays of emitters of so call “optical vortex beams” onto a silicon chip. The generation of these “twisted” light beams, which do not propagate in straight rays, have typically relied on bulk optical elements such as plates, lenses, and holograms. The new emitters, however, are thousands of times smaller than conventional elements.
At this week’s Frontiers in Optics 2012, physicists are presenting possible applications based on research that uses natural spider silk to catch light. Recent findings could present an eco-friendly alternative to glass or plastic fiber optics: the traditional materials for manipulating light. Silk-enabled implantable biosensors, lasers, and microchips could result.