Applied Physics

Structured Lasers Hit the Spot

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Science  28 Nov 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5906, pp. 1304
DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5906.1304b

Compact semiconductor lasers find a host of applications from optical information storage media to chemical sensors. The robust quantum cavity laser, which operates at room temperature with tunable wavelength, is the workhorse. The window from which the light is emitted can be on the order of just a few micrometers. However, this small size generally results in poor collimation; the beam fans out, which is detrimental to the areal reading capacity and requires the laser to be driven harder for sensing applications. Yu et al. have used a structure of concentric rings patterned into a metal layer deposited on the output facet of the laser to produce a plasmonic collimator that helps guide the output light. They find that the collimation of the output light beam can be improved by up to a factor of 30 while still retaining good output power as compared to unpatterned lasers. The improved collimation would also facilitate the coupling of light into optic waveguides and fibers for communication and possible optical computation applications. — ISO

Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 181101 (2008).

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