Marriage of Two Device Concepts

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Science  21 Nov 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5649, pp. 1346-1347
DOI: 10.1126/science.1092490

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In this Perspective, Tredicucci highlights the report by Colombelli et al., who have realized a semiconductor metamaterial that combines two concepts of solid-state science: quantum cascade lasers and photonic crystals. The result is a mid-infrared vertically emitting micro-laser that uses only conduction electrons to generate light. Such a device may have a strong impact at communications wavelengths, combining high-speed modulation with parallel device integration and facile coupling with optical fibers. It offers an ideal laboratory system for developing photonic crystal and surface plasmon science, which are highly promising for the miniaturization of photonic circuits and for subwavelength optics in general.