New laser emits a more stable, energy-efficient light beam | Science News

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New laser emits a more stable, energy-efficient light beam

A design based on exotic materials lets scientists better control the flow of light particles

2:35pm, February 1, 2018
laser illustration

ON THE EDGE In a new type of laser (illustrated), energy injected into the outer rings of a lattice (red) generates light particles that travel around the outer edge of the grid to a corner, where they escape as a single beam (top left).

A new type of laser is modeled after an exotic class of materials called topological insulators. And it’s proving more reliable and energy-efficient than its conventional counterparts, paving the way for possible use in quantum communication and next-generation electronics.

The device, described online February 1 in Science, is composed of a grid of semiconductor rings that convert energy into particles of light. The device then channels these photons in a single direction around the grid to until they are emitted as a beam.

The design borrows from the concept behind topological insulators — a kind of material that blocks electric current through its interior but lets electrons surf along its surface (SN: 5/22/10, p. 22). Scientists have engineered devices that similarly

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