Intel achieves laser milestone.
The very nature which makes silicon a non-light emitting medium has long deterred manufacturers from integrating the inexpensive semiconductor in photonics-based applications. In a scientific breakthrough, using the Raman-effect for light amplification, researchers at Intel, Santa Clara, Calif., have created the world's first continuous wave silicon laser. The laser, working together with an external light source, makes use of the natural I atomic vibrations in silicon to amplify the pump-light as it passes through the chip. Previously, efforts to create a silicon laser were thwarted by two-photon absorption which hindered the light amplification. However, the researchers overcame this by incorporating a PIN (P-type Insulator N-type) device into a waveguide to remove excess electrons from the light's path.
Intel hopes the technology will help bring low-cost, high-quality lasers and optical devices to mainstream use in computing, communications, and medical applications. This work was also reported in the Feb. 17 issue of the journal Nature.
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