In optical pumping, less can be more

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Science  17 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6207, pp. 304-305
DOI: 10.1126/science.1260707

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Lasing is based on the process of optical gain. Once this gain provided through external pumping surpasses the loss in a resonator, lasing sets in and a coherent beam of laser light is emitted. Thus, loss is a natural adversary of lasing, at least in common lasers. A striking amendment to this rule is reported on page 328 of this issue by Peng et al. (1), who report an onset of lasing in a pair of coupled resonators when the total loss of the system is increased.