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Frickin' nanolasers on chips herald new age of optoelectronics

You could fit many on a shark's head
Mon Feb 07 2011, 17:42

BOFFINS at the University of California, Berkeley, have brought optoelectronics one step closer by growing nanolasers onto a silicon surface.

The use of laser light to transmit data holds out the prospect of computers that can overcome the traditional bottlenecks between processors. The lasers are possible thanks to the nanopillars grown by UC Berkeley researchers. The researchers used metal-organic chemical vapour deposition to grow the nanopillars on silicon.

This method of producing nanolasers on silicon is the first that is compatible with the complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology used to make integrated circuits. Chemical vapour deposition is also a process that might be used for mass manufacture of these tiny nanolaser devices.

The nanopillars created are able to confine light in a nanoscale volume to enable subwavelength nanolasers. Previously growing such a nanopillar laser saw problems with material compatibility and the very high temperatures needed to grow the structures. Temperatures as great as 700 degrees Celsius were needed for earlier material choices. However, the UC Berkeley researchers overcame this limitation by finding a way to grow nanopillars made of indium gallium arsenide at the relatively low temperature of 400 degrees Celsius.

"Our results impact a broad spectrum of scientific fields, including materials science, transistor technology, laser science, optoelectronics and optical physics," said the study's principal investigator, Connie Chang-Hasnain, UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences.

The research was supported by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and a Department of Defense National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship. µ


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