The Associated Press reports about a new laser that might have a profound effect on future medical technology:
In an advance that could drive down the cost of optical networks and help make fiber as common as copper wires, Intel researchers have built a continuously shining laser with the same material – silicon – that’s the foundation of today’s chip industry.
The technology’s implications could be enormous, researchers said. It not only could be used to make high-bandwidth, light-based communications inexpensive enough to be used within computers, but also reduce the cost of lasers used in medicine, defense and other industries.
Just a few years ago, few experts thought silicon could be used to build a laser, said Mario Paniccia, director of Intel’s photonics lab. After all, it tends to absorb light energy, dissipating it as heat rather than amplifying it like lasers built with more exotic materials.
“This is a fundamental breakthrough,” said Paniccia, a co-author of the Intel study, which was to be published in the journal Nature on Thursday. “It’s one of those things that’s a game changer. You’re doing something in silicon that couldn’t be done before.”
If the research continues on track, it’s expected that the devices could be made in the same factories now used to build microprocessor and memory chips. If so, it could help companies like Intel further leverage their multibillion-dollar manufacturing investments.
NYT has an excellent article about the techology: a must read.
The official press release is here.
More at Intel Photonics…