Randomly arranged items usually have poor optical properties. The rough—or random—surface of a frosted-glass window, for example, obscures the view of an object.
Computed optical light fields in a random laser overlaid on black circles, which represent the nanoholes drilled into a semiconductor quantum cascade laser, to produce a laser pattern with low spatial coherence.
© 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
The optical industry therefore expends considerable effort reducing any surface irregularities in optical devices to avoid the uncontrollable scattering of light characteristic of random structures.
But now, a research group led by Ying Zhang from the A*STAR Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) has made good use of randomness by studying how random structures can improve the performance of lasers. Together with a team led by Qijie Wang at Nanyang Technical University in Singapore, the group has demonstrated the world’s first electrically pumped mid-infrared random laser, which operates at a 10-micrometer wavelength. The laser is as bright as conventional diode lasers but produces less-speckled images.
Light waves from a conventional laser oscillate in perfect synchronicity, across both time and space. Perfect alignment of the light waves at different time and different locations across the beam profile is known as temporal and spatial coherence, respectively. When a laser illuminates a surface, a speckled pattern is typically visible, which indicates spatial coherence. The speckles result from the laser beam reflecting from different parts of the surface. Because the waves are in sync, they create spatial interference effects in the eye of an observer. This distortion is undesirable, particularly in biomedical imaging applications conducted in the infrared region of the spectrum.
Random lasers are the solution to this type of distortion, says Zhang. “Random lasers show the same high temporal coherence as that of other lasers but have a lower spatial coherence,” he explains. “High temporal coherence gives the desirable brightness but it is the low spatial coherence that removes the speckles caused by interferences.”
To realize a random laser in the mid-infrared spectrum, Zhang and co-workers used a semiconductor quantum cascade laser into which they had drilled a random pattern of nanoholes. At a sufficiently high density, these holes prevent the formation of a regular laser pattern within the semiconductor (see image). Instead, the pattern of a random laser forms, with low spatial coherence.
Employing a quantum cascade laser to realize the random lasers allows for the polarization of the laser light perpendicular to the laser surface. This propagation minimizes losses owing to the air-hole structure.
The research team’s wafer-fabrication competencies enabled them to drill holes deep enough into the laser chip, with sufficiently smooth side walls to minimize losses in the laser itself. By introducing these perfections and overcoming a number of other practical hurdles, Zhang and his colleagues succeeded in making the lasers efficient enough to provide lasing during electrical operation.
Nevertheless, notes Hou Kun Liang of SIMTech, who invented the mid-infrared random laser, more work is needed to bring random lasers to market. “We are working on a random laser that operates at room temperature. And in the long-term, we plan to extend random lasers from the infrared to even longer wavelengths and can be used for inspection of various polymer packaging quality-control of printed electronics, biomedical imaging, among other applications.”
About the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology
The A*STAR Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) develops high-value manufacturing technology and human capital to contribute to the competitiveness of Singapore’s industry. It collaborates with universities as well as multinational and local companies in the precision engineering, electronics, semiconductor, medical technology, aerospace, automotive, marine, logistics and other sectors.
Liang, H. K., Meng, B., Liang, G., Tao, J., Chong, Y., Wang, Q. J. & Zhang, Y. Electrically pumped mid-infrared random lasers. Advanced Materials 25, 6859—6863 (2013).
A*STAR Research | Research asia research news
Applying electron beams to 3-D objects
23.09.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP
New process for cell transfection in high-throughput screening
21.03.2016 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.
Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...
Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.
Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.
“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...
With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...
For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.
Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...
28.09.2016 | Event News
27.09.2016 | Event News
23.09.2016 | Event News
28.09.2016 | Medical Engineering
28.09.2016 | Materials Sciences
28.09.2016 | Business and Finance