The smallest, most efficient laser yet, a nanoscale device that consumes just 1 microwatt of power, could one day be a component of faster computers.
Toshihiko Baba of Yokohama National University in Japan and his colleagues constructed the tiny laser out of a photonic crystal—a material with internal microstructure that controls the behavior of selected wavelengths of light. In nature, photonic crystals are responsible for the iridescent surfaces of some butterfly wings.
The team shone light from an ordinary laser onto a several-micron-wide slab of semiconductor material pierced with tiny, round holes in a hexagonal pattern. Scattering of light by the holes led to interference among the waves that made the normally translucent slab