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Lasers & Sources

Shih and Gwo: Nanolaser opens new possibilities in computing, communication, and beyond

Atomically smooth plasmonic structures are key to the development of the new device.

7 May 2013, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201304.06

Miniaturization of semiconductor lasers is key for the development of faster, smaller and lower energy photon-based technologies, such as ultrafast computer chips; highly sensitive biosensors for detecting, treating and studying disease; and next-generation communication technologies. Such photonic devices could use nanolasers to generate optical signals and transmit information, and have the potential to replace electronic circuits. But the size and performance of photonic devices have been restricted by the diffraction limit.

In July 2012, work by researchers in Texas and Taiwan resulted in low-threshold, continuous-wave operation of a subdiffraction nanolaser based on surface plasmon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. The plasmonic nanocavity is formed between an atomically smooth epitaxial silver film and a single optically pumped nanorod consisting of an epitaxial gallium nitride shell and an indium gallium nitride core acting as gain medium. The atomic smoothness of the metallic film is crucial for reducing the modal volume and plasmonic losses. The all-epitaxial approach opens a scalable platform for low-loss, active nanoplasmonics.

Chih-Kang "Ken" Shih is professor of physics at The University of Texas at Austin. The Shih Group's research centers around the theme of quantum control of condensed-matter systems. Their work seeks to develop the ability to engineer materials with atomic precision, thus enabling one to control system dimensionalities at different length scales. Of interest to the group are those length scales where the interplay of electronic, photonic and spin degrees of freedom result in novel material properties.

Shangjr (Felix) Gwo is Professor of Physics at National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan). His research group focuses on low-dimensional, atomic-scale to nanometer-scale condensed-matter systems, mainly based on semiconductor epitaxial materials.

Shih, Gwo, and coauthors will present their latest work, "All-color plasmonic nanolasers with ultralow thresholds," in a special keynote session of the conference Plasmonics: Metallic Nanostructures and their Optical Properties during the SPIE Optics + Photonics symposium in August 2013 in San Diego, California.