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“Lasers are ubiquitous in the present day world, from simple everyday laser pointers to complex laser interferometers used to detect gravitational waves. Our current research will impact many areas of laser applications,” said Ashok Kodigala, an electrical engineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and first author of the study.
“Because they are unconventional, BIC lasers offer unique and unprecedented properties that haven’t yet been realized with existing laser technologies,” said Boubacar Kanté, electrical engineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering who led the research.
“Light sources are key components of optical data communications technology in cell phones, computers and astronomy, for example. In this work, we present a new kind of light source that is more efficient than what’s available today in terms of power consumption and speed,” said Babak Bahari, an electrical engineering Ph.D. student in Kanté’s lab and a co-author of the study.
Making the BIC laser
“Right now, this is a proof of concept demonstration that we can indeed achieve lasing action with BICs,” Kanté said.
“And what’s remarkable is that we can get surface lasing to occur with arrays as small as 8 × 8 particles,” he said. In comparison, the surface lasers that are widely used in data communications and high-precision sensing, called VCSELs (vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers), need much larger (100 times) arrays — and thus more power — to achieve lasing.
“The popular VCSEL may one day be replaced by what we’re calling the ‘BICSEL’ — bound state in the continuum surface-emitting laser, which could lead to smaller devices that consume less power,” Kanté said. The team has filed a patent for the new type of light source.