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Laser Science in a Nanoscopic Gap

Speaker: 
Rupert Oulton (Imperial College London)
Date: 
Thu, 07/08/2014 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
Location: 
S13-M01-11 (Physics Conference Room)
Host: 
Goki Eda
Event Type: 
Seminars

Abstract

Semiconductor diode lasers have overcome numerous technological limitations in the 50 years since their first demonstration to become faster, brighter and smaller; however, scaling their size beyond the diffraction limit of light is a more recent achievement, with still uncertain consequences. A number of demonstrations from around the world, now show the capability of metal-based lasers to create and sustain coherent light well below the diffraction limit, by generating and amplifying surface waves on metal surfaces, known as Surface Plasmon Polaritons. This seminar introduces the motivations and construction of "plasmonic" lasers and discusses their limitations and potential applications. In particular, such laser devices could be the most efficient and compact method of delivering optical energy to the nanoscale. There are two benefits: firstly, the efficiently generated (focused) coherent laser field can be extremely intense; and secondly, vacuum fluctuations within the laser cavity are considerably stronger than in free space. Consequently, plasmonic lasers have the unique ability to drastically enhance both coherent and incoherent light-matter interactions, bringing fundamentally new capabilities to photonic technologies. While there is a great deal of research ahead for plasmonic lasers systems, this work highlights the feasibility of nano-scale light sources and the potential to do laser science at the nanoscale.

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