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Mini Lasers Could Help Launch New Internet Age

Photonics.com
Mar 2011
ORLANDO, Fla., March 21, 2011 — A miniature laser diode has been created that emits intense light at a single wavelength, making it ideal for high-speed data transmission.

Until now, the biggest challenge has been the failure rate of these tiny devices. They don't work very well when they face huge workloads; the stress makes them crack.


Sabine Freisem, a senior research scientist who has been collaborating with Deppe for eight years, works on lasers in their UCF lab. The miniature laser diode emits more intense light than those currently used. (Image: Jacque Brund/UCF)

The smaller size and elimination of nonsemiconductor materials means that the devices could potentially be used in heavy data transmission, which is critical in developing the next generation of the Internet. By incorporating laser diodes into cables in the future, massive amounts of data could be moved across great distances almost instantaneously. When used in optical clocks, the precision of GPS and high-speed wireless data communications also would increase.

"The new laser diodes represent a sharp departure from past commercial devices in how they are made," said professor Dennis Deppe from the College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida. "The new devices show almost no change in operation under stress conditions that cause commercial devices to rapidly fail."

"At the speed at which the industry is moving, I wouldn't be surprised if in four to five years, when you go to Best Buy to buy cables for all your electronics, you'll be selecting cables with laser diodes embedded in them," he said.

Deppe and Sabine Freisem, a senior research scientist who has been collaborating with Deppe for eight years, presented their findings in January at the SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco.

"This is definitely a milestone," Freisem said. "The implications for the future are huge."

But there is still one challenge that the team is working to resolve. The voltage necessary to make the laser diodes work more efficiently must be optimized. Once that problem is resolved, the uses for the laser diodes will multiply, Deppe said. They could be used in lasers in space.

"We usually have no idea how often we use this technology in our everyday life already," Deppe said. "Most of us just don't think about it. With further development, it will only become more commonplace."

For more information, visit: www.ucf.edu


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