Lasers go ultraviolet

Shorter waves means more information

Researchers at University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering have managed to design a usable ultraviolet laser.

The advantage of ultraviolet lasers is that they use shorter wavelengths than traditional lasers and you will therefore be able to store more information in the same space, University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering writes in their press release. They also hope to be able to use the lasers to enhance optical communication.

The researchers have created a waveguide using nanowire made out of zinc oxide instead of the more traditional material gallium arsenide that other researchers have used.

Normally zinc oxide cannot be used because of the lack of p-type, or positive type, material needed by all semiconductors. The researchers solved that problem by doping the zinc oxide nanowires with antimony, a metalloid element, to create the p-type material.

The p-type zinc oxide nanowires were connected with n-type, or negative type, zinc oxide material to form a device called p-n junction diode. Powered by a battery, highly directional laser light emits only from the ends of the nanowires.

We can only hope that we will soon see these lasers in production thus allowing us to store and transmit even more information than is possible with infrared, red and blue lasers.S|A

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