In technologies ranging from compact disc players to the Internet, circuits that manipulate electrons operate alongside those that manipulate photons. In their quest for faster and less-expensive devices, engineers have wanted to integrate both types of circuits onto single silicon chips. However, silicon's optical properties make such a feat difficult.
Now, researchers in California have made a laser from silicon, achieving an important step toward optoelectronic or even purely photonic chips of silicon (SN: 3/6/04, p. 157: Available to subscribers at Silicon goes optical).
"This is the first time that lasing in silicon has been achieved," says Bahram Jalali of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). "It's something the textbooks tell you can't be done." He and his colleagues describe the new laser in the Oct. 18 Optics Express and the Oct. 25 IEICE Electronics Express.