Scientists Find a New Way to Make Nanowire Lasers
Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley scientists adapt next-gen solar cell materials for a different purpose
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley have found a simple new way to produce nanoscale wires that can serve as tiny, tunable lasers.
The nanowires, with diameters as small as 200 nanometers (billionths of a meter) and a blend of materials that has also proven effective in next-generation solar cell designs, were shown to produce very bright, stable laser light. Researchers say the excellent performance of these tiny lasers is promising for the field of optoelectronics, which is focused on combining electronics and light to transmit data, among other applications.
Light can carry far more data, far more rapidly than standard electronics—a single fiber in a fiber-optic cable, measuring less than a hair’s width in diameter, can carry tens of thousands of telephone conversations at once, for example. And miniaturizing lasers to the nanoscale could further revolutionize computing by bringing light-speed data transmission to desktop and ultimately handheld computing devices.
“What’s amazing is the simplicity of the chemistry here,” said Peidong Yang, a chemist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division who led the research, published Feb. 9 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More standard techniques that produce nanowires can require expensive equipment and exotic conditions, such as high temperatures, and can suffer from other shortcomings. (more⇒)
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⇐ cover image: A nanowire construction zone: This scanning electron microscope image shows a collection of cesium lead bromide (CsPgbBr3) nanowires and nanoplates grown from a chemical-dipping process. To produce these structures, researchers dipped a thin lead-containing film into a methanol solution containing cesium, bromine and chlorine heated to about 122 degrees. The white scale bar at the lower right represents 10 microns. The image at the bottom left shows the well-formed rectangular end of a nanowire—the white scale bar associated with it represents 500 nanometers. (Credit: Sam Eaton/UC Berkeley)