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Let’s Get Small

Photonics Spectra
Jul 2001
Breakthroughs in materials science over the last decade have enabled the construction of quantum-dot lasers, ushering in benefits of being small.

Daniel S. Burgess, Senior Editor

As comedian Steve Martin urged in his now-classic stand-up routine: "Let's get small." The point has not been lost on semiconductor laser physics. While the work is largely confined to university and government research labs, advances in materials science should enable the development of unique commercial laser products in the near term. Quantum dots, nanometer-size semiconductor particles, promise to enable laser diodes with higher powers, greater temperature stability, lower threshold currents and the ability to tailor gain. Size does matter, and smaller is better.

Viable quantum-dot lasers are still in the development stage, but researchers predict that they will find commercial applications within the decade. Tommy W. Berg, a graduate student at the Center for Communications, Optics and Materials at Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby, investigates dot-based optoelectronics. He noted that the mass production of raw quantum dots has begun for other applications, and he believes that the increasing availability of the dots will accelerate development...

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