Physics and Device Applications of Optical Microcavities

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Science  03 Apr 1992:
Vol. 256, Issue 5053, pp. 66-70
DOI: 10.1126/science.256.5053.66


Optical microcavities are resonators that have at least one dimension on the order of a single optical wavelength. These structures enable one to control the optical emission properties of materials placed inside them. They can, for example, modify the spatial distribution of radiation power, change the spectral width of the emitted light, and enhance or suppress the spontaneous emission rate. In addition to being attractive for studying the fundamental physics of the interaction between materials and vacuum field fluctuations, optical microcavities hold technological promise for constructing novel kinds of light-emitting devices. One of their most dramatic potential features is thresholdless lasing. In this way and others, controlled spontaneous emission is expected to play a key role in a new generation of optical devices.