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Energy-efficient laser works at room temperature

First practical polariton light source could improve medical devices

12:57pm, June 16, 2014

An energy-efficient alternative to the laser no longer requires a deep freeze. The first plug-in, room-temperature polariton laser, reported in the June 13 Physical Review Letters, could soon find its way into electronics and medical devices.

Traditional lasers work by stimulated emission, in which atoms energized by electric current emit light. In polariton lasers, light is emitted by polaritons, particle-like couplings of light and matter. While polariton devices will never produce laser beams powerful enough to burn through metal, their big selling point is that they require very little electricity.

Last year, two research groups reported building polariton lasers that ran on electricity rather than another laser. But both lasers worked only in near-absolute-zero temperatures (SN: 6/29/13, p. 16

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