Low-energy laser makes leap toward practicality | Science News

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Low-energy laser makes leap toward practicality

Semiconductor-based device runs on electricity

3:38pm, May 15, 2013

A low-energy alternative to traditional lasers is finally available in plug-in form, a crucial step toward developing a practical alternative to the comparatively inefficient devices in use today. These so-called polariton lasers could soon find a niche in telecommunications and medical applications.

“This is a really important result,” says Alexey Kavokin, a physicist at Saint Petersburg State University in Russia, who wasn’t involved in the research. “It won’t be long before a new generation of lasers based on this new physics will come to the market.”

The lasers that are used in telecom, medicine, manufacturing and consumer electronics all function through a process called stimulated emission. A burst of light or electricity injects energy into a sea of atoms, causing the atoms’ electrons to jump up in energy as they swirl around the nucleus. When those electrons drop back to lower energies, they release photons. Those ph

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