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“Spaser”: The future of nanolaser technology

BioPhotonics
Mar 2011
BioPhotonics staff

TEL AVIV, Israel – Lasers have been used to zap tumors and send digital TV signals and telephone communications around the world. Now, creating a buzz in the field of nanotechnology, the “Spaser” has extended the range of what’s possible in modern electronics and optical devices.

Developed and patented in 2003 by researchers at Tel Aviv and Georgia State Universities, the Spaser (surface plasmon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) device is being developed into a practical tool by research teams in the US and around the world. In 2009, a team from Norfolk State, Purdue and Cornell universities created a practical prototype of the device.

Like a laser, but much, much smaller, the Spaser uses surface plasma waves – electromagnetic waves that are combined with an electron fluid wave in a metal. It can be less than 100 nm in length, significantly less than the wavelength of visible light. Using plasmons instead of photons, the device can overcome any physical limitations that other current materials face, making it suitable for future nanodevices in operating photonic circuitry on the surface of metals.

A critical component for future technologies based on nanophotonics, the Spaser could lead to innovations in medicine, science, computers and electronics. It may soon be possible to see genetic base pairs in DNA or operate computers at speeds 100 times greater than current devices. A promising renewable energy application could enable creation of more efficient solar energy collectors.

The researchers are working on commercializing their invention, and they are hopeful that it will open many doors in the development of nano-size devices.



GLOSSARY
nanotechnology
The use of atoms, molecules and molecular-scale structures to enhance existing technology and develop new materials and devices. The goal of this technology is to manipulate atomic and molecular particles to create devices that are thousands of times smaller and faster than those of the current microtechnologies.
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