New Understanding of Laser Diode Technology AchievedCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: July 24, 2012 09:54AM
One of my physics professors in college was the man in charge of the optics lab at the department. He had a variety of lasers including one that required a liquid cooling system you wish your computer had and another that was at least a meter long. Of course those were gas lasers and not the diode lasers we find in laser pointers and optical drives. Some day we should see diode lasers in computer chips too, as a means of bringing about photonic computing, and researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have discovered some things that will help make this a reality.
The researchers were working with vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) which a variety of surface-emitting lasers which many are trying to build into computer chips. One of the issues with VCSELs though is that they produce randomly polarized light, which can greatly affect how they interact with other devices. What the researchers discovered though is a class of VCSELs which can have their polarization controlled, and they successfully created a nonpolar VCSEL as well.
These discoveries could lead to far more efficient laser diodes for computers. By having the polarization of multiple devices properly aligned, less energy is needed for the laser to be detected. Potentially these lasers could be used for pico-projectors in smartphones and even car lighting.