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VWN Printer Friendly News: Laser Blackout Quirk Important to Future Electronics?

 Laser Blackout Quirk Important to Future Electronics?
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Date posted: 25/04/2012
Posted by: Site Administration
This story is from the category
Computing Power

Two lamps are brighter than one. This simple truism does not necessarily apply to lasers, as a team of scientists, led by the Vienna University of Technology found out. When one laser is shining and next to it another laser is turned on gradually, complex interactions between the two lasers can lead to a total shutdown and no light is emitted anymore. For technologies connecting the fields of electronics and photonics, this result may be very important.

"Imagine two light bulbs right next to each other, one of which is switched on. As you gradually turn on the second bulb by adjusting a dimmer switch, you expect the room to get brighter," says Matthias Liertzer. He studied the behavior of coupled micro-lasers using computer simulations, together with Professor Stefan Rotter at the Institute for Theoretical Physics (TU Vienna). They were assisted by scientists from Princeton University, Yale University and the ETH Zurich.

To make a laser shine, it has to be "pumped" -- it has to be supplied with energy, using light or electric current. If only one of two micro-lasers is pumped, only the pumped laser emits light. Surprisingly, pumping the second laser too does not necessarily increase the brightness of the coupled system. Supplying more energy can even reduce the brightness, until both lasers become dark. "When we saw that the two lasers can switch each other off completely, due to the coupling between them, we knew: either we made a mistake or this is a spectacular result," says Stefan Rotter. In the meantime, the effect was confirmed in independent calculations by the co-authors from Yale.

Electrical engineers at the Vienna University of Technology are now working on experiments with micro lasers, in which the theoretical predictions should be verified. Laser effects like this one are especially interesting, as they show new ways to connect microelectronics and laser technology. In today's computers, information is transmitted by electric signals. Adding laser light could open up exciting new possibilities.

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