Nav: Home

Introducing the disposable laser

May 03, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 3, 2016 - Since lasers were invented more than 50 years ago, they have transformed a diverse swath of technology -- from CD players to surgical instruments.

Now researchers from France and Hungary have invented a way to print lasers that's so cheap, easy and efficient they believe the core of the laser could be disposed of after each use. The team reports its findings in the Journal of Applied Physics, from AIP Publishing.

"The low-cost and easiness of laser chip fabrication are the most significant aspects of our results," said Sébastien Sanaur, an associate professor in the Center of Microelectronics in Provence at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Étienne in France.

Sanaur and his colleagues made organic lasers, which amplify light with carbon-containing materials. Organic lasers are not as common as inorganic lasers, like those found in laser pointers, DVD players, and optical mice, but they offer benefits such as high-yield photonic conversion, easy fabrication, low-cost and a wide range of wavelengths.

One obstacle that has held back organic lasers is the fact that they degrade relatively quickly -- but that hurdle might be less daunting if the lasers are so cheap they could be tossed when they fail.

Sanaur's research team produced their ultra-low-cost organic laser using a familiar technology: an inkjet printer.

Inkjet printing is a relatively inexpensive manufacturing process that works by squirting small jets of fluid onto an underlying material. The inkjet printer at your office is only one form of the technology -- scientists have also adapted it to print electronic circuits, pharmaceutical drugs and even biological cells.

"By piezoelectric inkjet printing, you print 'where you want, when you want,' without wasting raw materials," Sanaur said. The technique doesn't require masks, can be done at room temperature and can print onto flexible materials.

The researchers tested a variety of possible inks, before settling on a commercial ink variety called EMD6415, which they mixed with dyes. The ink was printed in small square shapes onto a quartz slide.

The dyed ink acted as the core of the laser, called a gain medium. A gain medium amplifies light and produces the characteristically narrow, single-color laser beam.

A laser also requires mirrors to reflect light back and forth through the gain medium and an energy source, called a pump, to keep the light amplification going.

The disposable part of the new laser is the printed gain medium, which the researchers call the "lasing capsule." They estimate it could be produced for only a few cents. Like the replaceable blades in a razor, the lasing capsule could be easily swapped out when it deteriorates.

The research team used two different types of dyes to produce laser emission ranging from yellow to deep red. Other dyes could cover the blue and green part of the spectrum, they predict.

With further development, the inexpensive inkjet-printed laser could send data over short plastic fibers and serve as a tool for analysing chemical or biological samples.
-end-
The article, "Inkjet-printed vertically-emitting solid-state organic lasers," is authored by Oussama Mhibik, Sebastien Chenais, Sébastien Forget, Christophe Defranoux and Sébastien Sanaur. It will be published in the Journal of Applied Physics May 3, 2016 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4946826). After that date, it can be accessed at http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/jap/119/17/10.1063/1.4946826.

The authors of this paper are affiliated with the Université Paris, Semilab and ENSM-SE.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL

Journal of Applied Physics is an influential international journal publishing significant new experimental and theoretical results of applied physics research. See http://jap.aip.org.

American Institute of Physics

Related Laser Articles:

The sharpest laser in the world
With a linewidth of only 10 mHz, the laser that the researchers from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) have now developed together with US researchers from JILA, a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado Boulder, has established a new world record.
Biggest X-ray laser in the world generates its first laser light
European XFEL, the biggest X-ray laser in the world, has generated its first X-ray laser light.
Where does laser energy go after being fired into plasma?
An outstanding conundrum on what happens to the laser energy after beams are fired into plasma has been solved in newly-published research at the University of Strathclyde.
Over-the-counter laser pointers a threat to eyesight
Some laser pointers that can be bought over the counter are unsafe -- to the point that they can cause blindness.
Introducing the disposable laser
Since lasers were invented more than 50 years ago, they have transformed a diverse swath of technology -- from CD players to surgical instruments.
A laser for your eyes
A team of the Lomonosov Moscow State University scientists and the Belarusian National Technical University has created a unique laser, which is a compact light source with wavelengths harmless to the human eye.
New laser to shine light on remote sensing
A revolutionary new type of laser developed by the University of Adelaide is promising major advances in remote sensing of greenhouse gases.
Laser beams with a 'twist'
Using geometric phase inside lasers for the first time, researchers find a way to change the orbital angular momentum of laser beams.
New laser achieves wavelength long sought by laser developers
Researchers at the University of Bath, United Kingdom have created a new kind of laser capable of pulsed and continuous mid-infrared emission between 3.1 and 3.2 microns, a spectral range that has long presented a major challenge for laser developers.
New laser achieves wavelength long sought by laser developers
Researchers at the University of Bath, United Kingdom have created a new kind of laser capable of pulsed and continuous mid-infrared (IR) emission between 3.1 and 3.2 microns, a spectral range that has long presented a major challenge for laser developers.

Related Laser Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...