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Gain modulation by graphene plasmons in aperiodic lattice lasers

Science  15 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6270, pp. 246-248
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2930

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Tunable lasers

Lasers emit coherent light at wavelengths that are well defined. These wavelengths are usually fixed once the device has been fabricated. Now, Chakraborty et al. have combined an atomically thin graphene sheet with terahertz quantum cascade lasers to realize a terahertz laser that can be tuned via the carrier doping level of the graphene layer (see the Perspective by Polini). The demonstration opens up the possibility of reversible control over the laser emission through the integration of graphene waveguides.

Science, this issue p. 246; see also p. 229

Abstract

Two-dimensional graphene plasmon-based technologies will enable the development of fast, compact, and inexpensive active photonic elements because, unlike plasmons in other materials, graphene plasmons can be tuned via the doping level. Such tuning is harnessed within terahertz quantum cascade lasers to reversibly alter their emission. This is achieved in two key steps: first, by exciting graphene plasmons within an aperiodic lattice laser and, second, by engineering photon lifetimes, linking graphene’s Fermi energy with the round-trip gain. Modal gain and hence laser spectra are highly sensitive to the doping of an integrated, electrically controllable, graphene layer. Demonstration of the integrated graphene plasmon laser principle lays the foundation for a new generation of active, programmable plasmonic metamaterials with major implications across photonics, material sciences, and nanotechnology.

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