According to an article by the South China Morning Post published on Friday, Chinese researchers have developed a new technique for producing laser-like light that might significantly boost the communication speed of common electronics.
The new gadget that enables this light is known as a free-electron laser, and it was built by experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics.
It is not entirely new technology. Such lasers have existed in the past, but they were cumbersome, powerful machines housed in large, expensive facilities, making them unsuitable for daily use.
The new device, however, emits laser-like light in a wide range of wavelengths for a number of purposes using just a small piece of wire approximately 8cm (3.1 inches) in length. In these places, typical laser light is typically prohibited.
A team of honor guards
Ye Tian, a research co-author, told the Shanghai Observer that his innovation made this advancement by figuring out how to sync electrons “like a team of honour guards” to produce more power.
Electrons in the atoms of optical materials, such as glass, crystal, or gas, must absorb energy in the form of light or electricity in order to create lasers.
When this happens, the extra energy causes the electrons to move to a higher-energy orbit. This does not last, as the electrons must eventually return to their normal orbit, emitting photons along the way. Photons in laser beams all move in the same direction and at the same wavelength, which the Chinese scientists were able to recreate.
“Consider the electrons to be rowing athletes in a boat. The winning team will be the one that can generate more power & bigger waves. The best plan is for everyone to paddle in the same direction, according to Tian.
Today, experts from all around the world assert that the new technology might quickly find ready uses for improved security screening by making more body-scanning devices that are more effective or in the development of more advanced electronics, such smartphones.
“With further refinement and the discovery of ways to produce higher frequency light, tiny silicon-based lasers made from this technology will find their way into phones & other devices for high-speed communications and precision sensors,” said SCMP David Gozzard of Australia’s International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, who was not involved in the study.
Compatible with ongoing research
The advancement might possibly be incorporated into other ongoing studies.
“The prospect of replicating (these) results with visible radiation is particularly exciting as it could lead to very compact amplified light sources,” wrote Harvard University physicist Nicholas Rivera in a commentary published in Nature.
“This could be particularly useful in materials like silicon, which are widely available and easy to fabricate, but have so far proven difficult to use as media for lasers,” he said.
The study was published in the journal Nature.