Chip-based superlattice laser design offers inexpensive tunable multicolor output

Results show color and intensity of light can be controlled by varying the cavity architecture.

A study done at Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory (both in Evanston, IL) has modeled and done experimentation toward the creation of a small, chip-based laser design that outputs multicolor laser light and offers a step forward in integrated-photonics lasers.1 Possible uses include encrypted, encoded, redundant, and higher data-rate flow in optical fibers, as well as multicolor medical imaging of diseased tissue in real time.

"In our work, we demonstrated that multimodal lasing with control over the different colors can be achieved in a single device," says Teri W. Odom, a professor of chemistry at Northwestern. "Compared to traditional lasers, our work is unprecedented for its stable multimodal nanoscale lasing and our ability to achieve detailed and fine control over the lasing beams."

The work offers new insights into the design and mechanism of multimodal nanoscale lasing based on structural engineering and manipulating the optical band structures of nanoparticle superlattices. In the device, nanoparticle superlattices are integrated with liquid gain (dyes). Using this technology, the color and intensity of the light, and the production and tuning of multiple colors at once, can be controlled by simply varying the device's cavity architecture.

In the future, Odom says she and her team are interested in designing white nanolasers by covering blue, green, and red wavelengths simultaneously. Their approach should allow them to change the "whiteness" between warm and cool whites by controlling the relative intensity of the blue, green, and red channels. Additionally, this new work offers possibilities for ultrasensitive sensing in chemical processes (different molecules can be monitored simultaneously) and in-situ cellular imaging at multiple colors (different dye labels would be excited by different laser colors and different biological processes can be correlated).



1. Danqing Wang et al., Nature Nanotechnology (2017); doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.126

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