Researchers at UC-Santa Barbara have built the world's first mode-locked silicon evanescent laser

August 21, 2007

Santa Barbara, Calif. - August 21, 2007 - Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have announced they have built the world's first mode-locked silicon evanescent laser, a significant step toward combining lasers and other key optical components with the existing electronic capabilities in silicon. The research provides a way to integrate optical and electronic functions on a single chip and enables new types of integrated circuits. It introduces a more practical technology with lower cost, lower power consumption and more compact devices. The research will be reported in the September 3 issue of Optics Express and is published online today.

Mode-locked evanescent lasers can deliver stable short pulses of laser light that are useful for many potential optical applications, including high-speed data transmission, multiple wavelength generation, remote sensing (LIDAR) and highly accurate optical clocks.

Computer technology now depends mainly on silicon electronics for data transmission. By causing silicon to emit light and exhibit other potentially useful optical properties, integration of photonic devices on silicon becomes possible. The problem in the past" It is extremely difficult, nearly impossible, to create a laser in silicon.

Less than one year ago, a research team at UCSB and Intel, led by John Bowers, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, created laser light from electrical current on silicon by placing a layer of InP above the silicon. In this new study, Bowers, Brian Koch, a doctoral student, and others have used this platform to demonstrate electrically-pumped lasers emitting 40 billion pulses of light per second. This is the first ever achievement of such a rate in silicon and one that matches the rates produced by other mediums in standard use today. These short pulses are composed of many evenly spaced colors of laser light, which could be separated and each used to transmit different high-speed information, replacing the need for hundreds of lasers with just one.

Creating optical components in silicon will lead to optoelectronic devices that can increase the amount and speed of data transmission in computer chips while using existing silicon technology. Employing existing silicon technology would represent a potentially less expensive and more feasible way to mass-produce future-generation devices that would use both electrons and photons to process information, rather than just electrons as has been the case in the past.
-end-
This research was supported by funds from the Microsystems Technology Office of DARPA. This research builds upon the development of the first hybrid silicon laser, announced by UCSB and Intel a year ago, enabling new applications for silicon-based optics.

Media Contacts:

Barbara Bronson Gray, 818.889.5415, bbgray@engineering.ucsb.edu

John Bowers, 805.893.8447, bowers@ece.ucsb.edu

University of California - Santa Barbara

Related Laser Articles from Brightsurf:

Laser technology: New trick for infrared laser pulses
For a long time, scientists have been looking for simple methods to produce infrared laser pulses.

Sensors get a laser shape up
Laser writing breathes life into high-performance sensing platforms.

Laser-powered nanomotors chart their own course
The University of Tokyo introduced a system of gold nanorods that acts like a tiny light-driven motor, with its direction of motion is determined by the orientation of the motors.

What laser color do you like?
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland have developed a microchip technology that can convert invisible near-infrared laser light into any one of a panoply of visible laser colors, including red, orange, yellow and green.

Laser technology: The Turbulence and the Comb
While the light of an ordinary laser only has one single, well-defined wavelength, a so-called ''frequency comb'' consists of different light frequencies, which are precisely arranged at regular distances, much like the teeth of a comb.

A laser for penetrating waves
The 'Landau-level laser' is an exciting concept for an unusual radiation source.

Laser light detects tumors
A team of researchers from Jena presents a groundbreaking new method for the rapid, gentle and reliable detection of tumors with laser light.

The first laser radio transmitter
For the first time, researchers at Harvard School of Engineering have used a laser as a radio transmitter and receiver, paving the way for towards ultra-high-speed Wi-Fi and new types of hybrid electronic-photonic devices.

The random anti-laser
Scientists at TU Wien have found a way to build the 'opposite' of a laser -- a device that absorbs a specific light wave perfectly.

Laser 'drill' sets a new world record in laser-driven electron acceleration
Combining a first laser pulse to heat up and 'drill' through a plasma, and another to accelerate electrons to incredibly high energies in just tens of centimeters, scientists have nearly doubled the previous record for laser-driven particle acceleration at Berkeley Lab's BELLA Center.

Read More: Laser News and Laser Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.