Researchers have created a microchip laser that fires an extraordinarily thin beam of high-intensity light. Because the beam can be as narrow as a few tens of nanometers across, it may prove useful for tasks such as writing close-packed data bits onto optical disks and identifying the chemicals making up nanoscale objects, its inventors say.
In the past, experimenters have shone microlaser beams through minute holes to create beams of nanoscale dimensions, notes electrical engineer Kenneth B. Crozier of Harvard University. However, the resulting beams were weak. To overcome this problem, he, Harvard physicist Federico Capasso, and their col