Scientists Create First Ever Liquid Nanoscale Laser

First Posted: Apr 27, 2015 09:30 AM EDT

Scientists have developed the first ever liquid nanoscale laser. The new device is tunable in real time, which means that users can quickly and simply produce different colors, and could lead to practical applications.

The liquid nanolaser is actually simple to make, inexpensive to produce and operates at room temperature. It could actually lead to a new form of a "lab on a chip" for medical diagnostics.

The new liquid nanolaser isn't a laser pointer. Instead, it's a laser device on a chip. The laser's color can be changed when the liquid dye in the microfluidic channel above the laser's cavity is changed.

The laser's cavity itself is made up of an array of reflective gold nanoparticles where the light is concentrated around each nanoparticle and then amplified. In contrast to conventional laser cavities, no mirrors are required for the light to bounce back and forth. As the laser color is tuned the nanoparticle cavity stays fixed and does not change.

"Our study allows us to think about new laser designs and what could be possible if they could actually be made," said Teri Odom, the lead researcher, in a news release. "My lab likes to go after new materials, new structures and new ways of putting them together to achieve things not yet imagined. We believe this work represents a conceptual and practical engineering advance for on-demand, reversible control of light from nanoscopic sources."

The laser could be used for on-chip light sources for optoelectronic integrated circuits and optical data storage and lithography.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.

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