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New Nano-Laser Created

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the very-small-breakthroughs dept.

Technology 84

Many sources are reporting that researchers have created the world's smallest laser since the inception of lasers almost a half-century ago. Dubbed "spasers," as an acronym for "surface plasmon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation," their incredibly tiny size could become a critical component for future technologies like "nanophotonic" circuitry. "Such circuits will require a laser-light source, but current lasers can't be made small enough to integrate them into electronic chips. Now researchers have overcome this obstacle, harnessing clouds of electrons called 'surface plasmons,' instead of the photons that make up light, to create the tiny spasers."

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And in other news (5, Funny)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 5 years ago | (#29095677)

... geneticists are now working feverishly to develop the world's first nano-shark.

Re:And in other news (4, Funny)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 5 years ago | (#29095963)

Actually, I was thinking more like, frickin plankton with frickin lasers...
Once heralded as the solution to world hunger, now could be the solution for population control.

Re:And in other news (1)

Beriaru (954082) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096745)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these. On sharks!

I for one welcome etc, etc...

By the way, does it run linux?

Re:And in other news (1)

masshuu (1260516) | more than 5 years ago | (#29098425)

O.o you welcome our Geat Overloads with Lasers on there massive, demon killing biceps?

Re:And in other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29097587)

Would this be classed as Biological Warfare now? Or is it still as "biological" as a human shooting a gun?

Re:And in other news (1)

NotOverHere (1526201) | more than 5 years ago | (#29100533)

An there an app for this. Later scientists are looking to scale it up to the Shuffle and the Touch.

Re:And in other news (1)

SteelWing (1611391) | more than 5 years ago | (#29114815)

Spazer Beam Aquired.

Linux (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29095683)

I tried to find a driver for my new nano laser, for Ubuntu, but no luck. Help!

Re:Linux (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29095959)

Enter the following in the console:

apt-get sharkswithfreakinglasers
make laser
sudo intalllaser

At this point you will get a number of incomprehensible error messages.

Spend 18 hours of time searching google discovering that though there are many different instructions out there, nothing works.

Re:Linux (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29096169)

All while Windows continues to BSOD trying to run lasercontrol.exe, OS X doesn't even have anything close to a working solution, and there's an iPhone app floating around that does all the lasering for you for $.99

Re:Linux (2, Funny)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#29098941)

and there's an iPhone app floating around that does all the lasering for you for $.99

Unfortunately it was deleted from Apple Store

Re:Linux (4, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096021)

Drivers are only available for minix

Re:Linux (1, Insightful)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096533)

Mods? Troll? Seriously? It went quite well with the parent humor. I do not believe there was trollage intended here, nor did it have the teeth to feed with.

Boo mods.

Note: If the parent post is no longer marked Troll, then I commend the mods for correcting an otherwise totally unfair marking.

Re:Linux (0, Troll)

Inschato (1350323) | more than 5 years ago | (#29097845)

Someone seems to have just taken all their mod points and rated several posts in a row troll for no apparent reason.

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29099997)

When masturbation loses its charm, there's always forum abuse ...

Re:Linux (-1, Troll)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096199)

Before they can work on a linux driver, they need to wait for someone to develop suitable linux nanolaser fonts. It should be available any year now.

Re:Linux (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#29098953)

Now I understand why everyone of a sudden became concerned about the optics of Linux.

Nano-photonic circuitry!!?!?! (5, Funny)

AtomicDevice (926814) | more than 5 years ago | (#29095705)

Awesome! I can finally get this mobile emitter working again so I can get the hell out of sick bay.

Re:Nano-photonic circuitry!!?!?! (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096319)

Once you do that make sure you keep it away from the babe in the metallic catsuit.

Re:Nano-photonic circuitry!!?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29096657)

Wake me up when it emits hard light.

-Rimmer

Optical Hard drives (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29095707)

Optical Writeable Readable Hard drives that are Giga-giga-bakillion-kazakcipaloo-bytes and are random access/seeking - they're coming.

All this technology and Slashdot's scripts still suck.

Slashcode aspires to suck (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29095755)

"Suck" implies stable enough functionality to maintain a vacuum.

Re:Optical Hard drives (1)

bpgslashdotaccount (1221626) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096547)

Optical Writeable Readable Hard drives that are Giga-giga-bakillion-kazakcipaloo-bytes and are random access/seeking - they're coming.

Yes, but there will still be only 10 kinds of people in the world, us and the marketing drones.

Spaser, huh? (4, Funny)

Millennium (2451) | more than 5 years ago | (#29095757)

So do they split into three parallel beams, thus covering a wider area than a single beam could along? And do they do the whole sinusoidal-oscillation thing if combined with a Wave Beam?

Re:Spaser, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29096017)

I applaud your use Super Metroid references. Well met, kinsman.

Re:Spaser, huh? (4, Funny)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096235)

Bah, this existed back in 1994. Problem is, it was mostly useless because you couldn't combine it with a Plasma Beam.
Useless, I say!

Re:Spaser, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29096799)

but plasma beam + wave beam made spaser totally obsolete

Re:Spaser, huh? (3, Funny)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 5 years ago | (#29097079)

Actually, that's a safety measure as the combination of the Spazer and the Plasma Beam can corrupt the entire universe if used in a room of improper size.

Re:Spaser, huh? (1)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 5 years ago | (#29098301)

You're thinking of the widely publicized photon technique, but this is really cool because they've now miniaturized the process.

Previously the process was cumbersome because you need at least three people wearing photon packs on their back, to cross the photon beam OVER the containment trap. Timing is The Key. But this could be error-prone at times, and bad things happened.

For more technical details:
http://www.gbfans.com/equipment/plans/stefan-otto/ [gbfans.com]

Now all we need... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29095759)

Are the worlds smallest sharks.

Well, that's nice (5, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#29095761)

But I think I'll wait for the Laser Shuffle.

insead of cirtuit trace? (2, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#29095773)

I bet fiber optic would make good connections between multiple chips and/or other similarly capable hardware

Re:insead of cirtuit trace? (2, Interesting)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 5 years ago | (#29097863)

Naturally, to get to the dimensions of current electronics, you'd have to come up with a way to put down an optical fiber using some form of deposition effect, and then figure out how to couple your wave efficiently into the fiber, and convert it back at the destination. Followed by the problem of still being limited by light speed which lets your signal propagate about 6 cm per cycle on a 5 GHz chip. What quickly brings you back to a high speed fiber optical network to transmit large amounts of data, but not to a faster chip which has to rapidly exchange small strings of data preferable in a symmetric fashion.

Re:insead of cirtuit trace? (3, Informative)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#29099071)

Couldn't read the articles because i don't have an account there. But the abstracts look interesting: http://www.opticsinfobase.org/ol/abstract.cfm?uri=ol-30-13-1710 [opticsinfobase.org] http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/440892722-27397378/content~content=a911227137~db=all~jumptype=rss [informaworld.com] http://www.emeraldinsight.com/10.1108/EUM0000000004246 [emeraldinsight.com] and there seem to be already patents on manufacturing these integrated optic curcuits: http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/4400052/claims.html [patentstorm.us]

Re:insead of cirtuit trace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29097947)

I bet fiber optic would make good connections between multiple chips and/or other similarly capable hardware

Imagine that one day, we can have on-chip optics that do not need light guides. Instead, they cast laser beams from place to place in vacuum. Routing would be so much simpler, because you can cross the beams without shorting the signals.

It would be bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29100003)

You may not short the signals, but you'd have to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

Wake me when they have something in production. (3, Insightful)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#29095785)

I see about three revolutionary breakthroughs per day, three of which never go anywhere because of cost or something. This reminds me of those "water on mars," articles -- we've been "getting new compelling evidence for water on mars" for decades. So, really, I've started to lose interest. I'll be excited when it finally goes somewhere. Really, what gets my blood pumping is what I can see coming down the pipe -- 128gb flash drives, C++0xA, etc.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096013)

So you see

three revolutionary breakthroughs per day

However

three of which never go anywhere

That'd be none then, zero, zilch, nowt, nothing.

Wonder how anything progresses these days...

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096275)

refinement of existing tech...

and i think the problem of cost has more to do with not finding a process that can be applied to a henry ford style mass production, then something that can be made for profit (anything can be sold for profit, if the customer is willing to pay the price).

that, and refinements of existing mass production processes outstrip the potential benefit of the new products, before things can be scaled up...

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096385)

That'd be none then, zero, zilch, nowt, nothing.

I know, that was the point. "Three out of three never go anywhere..." Of course, there are those rare breakthroughs that actually do something. Sure, it's nice to see Scientific tinkering, but I'm really most interested in stuff that is practical.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (2, Insightful)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#29097297)

The rest of us see what does not exist, and think, why not?

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#29099105)

You will never get practical stuff without "Scientific tinkering" (others call it "Research"). So if you're not interested in tinkering, simply skip articles like this one.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096213)

Well, believe it or not, there are some people who are interested in the "R" part of R&D as well as the "D" part.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096379)

Yes but without the "D" the "R" isn't very valuable - it is just a nice thought.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096593)

And without the "R," the "D" has nothing to do.

The kind of thing TFA is talking about is a lot more than "just a nice thought." The researchers have done some very difficult, impressive work. Will it ultimately become a usable product? We have no way of knowing. But they've contributed to the sum of human knowledge in a meaningful way. This is pretty much how the relationship between science and technology works.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29096639)

Nicely said, although it's sad that you have to explain that on Slashdot, of all places.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096789)

Thanks. And yeah, I was thinking that when I made the original post.

There does seem to be a contingent on Slashdot that sees science as kind of irrelevant. Scientists are ivory-tower eggheads with their heads in the clouds who waste their time on airy-fairy ideas, engineers are tough gritty workin' men with dirt under their fingernails who really make things happen ... that kind of thing. It's bullshit, of course, but it's very appealing bullshit to people who don't actually know that much about how science or engineering actually works, but think they do.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (2, Insightful)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096791)

And without the "D" producing a product that sells, there is rarely money for "R". Unfortunately it is not the academic minded handing out the research grants, it is the bean counters. (Otherwise all of our world problems would be likely solved by now.) This is pretty much how the relationship between science and reality works.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (3, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096865)

Except here we have researchers at Purdue, a university with a history of a particularly strong and fruitful connection between science and engineering, doing solid scientific research which may well (or may not, of course) lead to useful commercial development. Believe me, I agree with you entirely about the "bean counters," and I would very much like to see more money directed toward pure research. (Part of this is pure self-interest, since I'm an academic scientist, but I felt this way back when I was doing corporate DBA work too.) The point is that while it may not happen enough, it does happen ... and "who cares" attitudes, like the one displayed in the OP which I replied to, are a major obstacle to it happening more.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#29098835)

Unfortunately it is not the academic minded handing out the research grants, it is the bean counters. (Otherwise all of our world problems would be likely solved by now.)

Thanks for the best laugh I've had in my entire life. I love you, man.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (3, Informative)

hansraj (458504) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096807)

damn it! I mistakenly modded you redundant (I was going for insightful). Replying to undo the mod and to earn some off-topic mods probably :(

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096935)

Thank you! That was a very nice thing to do, and I hope you don't get modded down for it.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29099313)

Quite so. In fact as far as I'm concerned once a working lab model has been made it's a solved problem and there's nothing interesting left to do :) All the extra work to produce into a commercial product is pretty tedious stuff.

What's so interesting about a 128 GB flash drive anyway? It's just a normal flash drive, but bigger. Useful, maybe. Interesting, no.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (1)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#29097459)

I see about three revolutionary breakthroughs per day, three of which never go anywhere because of cost or something.

You're saying that no fundamental breakthroughs ever "go anywhere", which is patently false. The amazing array of technology around us (from computers to MRIs to satellites to medical drugs) can be traced back to fundamental research breakthroughs.

I will grant you that the majority of breakthroughs do not directly translate into a particular product. But that's the nature of research: we have to study a wide-variety of things to find those that are really significant for technology. Moreover just by pushing the boundaries of what we know and what can be done, we inevitably improve technology (e.g. particle physicists built better magnets for accelerators, which wound up making MRI possible/better...).

This reminds me of those "water on mars," articles -- we've been "getting new compelling evidence for water on mars" for decades.

Yes, science is mostly incremental. It requires repeated testing, the accumulation of evidence from different sources, and so on. What's wrong with that?

I've started to lose interest. I'll be excited when it finally goes somewhere. Really, what gets my blood pumping is what I can see coming down the pipe

Ok. So you like new products but don't care so much about the details of the research that goes into making all that happen. That's cool. But your implication (by posting a "Wake me up..." comment in a discussion about fundamental research) is that such things are just not interesting or relevant. There are many of us who disagree: we like fundamental science, we find the interim steps in research quite interesting, we like being aware of cool technologies years before they are commercialized, and so on.

If all you care about are the final specs of the latest tech, then you can certainly ignore all those boring science articles.

Re:Wake me when they have something in production. (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 5 years ago | (#29101869)

That's a hell of a long pipe for production Mars water.

Words (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#29095801)

"surface plasmons"

Really? Plasmons? Are they just making words up now?

Re:Words (3, Informative)

MadAnalyst (959778) | more than 5 years ago | (#29095851)

It is a widely accepted term in the field, well known to certain physicists/chemists. But Google might help you learn something new. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Words (4, Funny)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 5 years ago | (#29097651)

From the Wikipedia article:

"For plasmon-based electronics to be useful, an analog to the transistor, called a plasmonster, must be invented."

It is dark. You are likely to be eaten by a plasmonster.

Re:Words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29112429)

So... THAT's what the fuck a "grue" is!

Re:Words (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096003)

Really? Plasmons? Are they just making words up now?

It's a quasi-particle, like an electron hole.

Re:Words (2, Funny)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096183)

"surface plasmons"

Really? Plasmons? Are they just making words up now?

Yeah. It's stupid: we already had the perfectly functional phrase "plasmid" to describe those.

Personally I'm holding out for them perfecting the electricity plasmid.

Re:Words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29096925)

Yes, because that's their job. Scientists are *supposed* to make things up...then prove they were right. If scientists didn't do things that needed new words to be invented then they wouldn't be doing anything interesting. And who else would invent the words? It's not like they'd hire an english major to do that.

perhaps (2, Interesting)

OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) | more than 5 years ago | (#29095907)

someone can use this to further the idea/technologies of creating an artificial brain; use the spaser as an artificial receptors.

Keep up the good work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29095997)

This is starting to be more than what I've dreamed to be. Is our nature going to evolve fast enough to keep up with the the technology, or are we escalating individual power enough to a point that the possibility of mass destruction by single individuals is going to be common, and therefore inevitable sooner or later.
I sincerely hope humans can keep up.

how will we be able to hear (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29096019)

The tiny "pew pew pew" sounds? Hardly sounds fun to me.

Too bad for you . . . (2, Funny)

Tanman (90298) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096849)

Horton Hears the Pew!

VCSELs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29096095)

"but current lasers can't be made small enough to integrate them into electronic chips."

Yeah, except VCSELs have been around since the 80s. They are definitely small enough to integrate into an electronic chip, and they have been for quite some time.

Just friggin great... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29096165)

...now even baby sharks can have friggin lasers in them!

USELESS TECHNOLOGY!! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29096349)

We have NO nano cats to use it with!

Mork from Ork should be proud... (1)

EsJay (879629) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096361)

...of his peoples' accomplishment!

USELESS TECHNOLOGY!!! (1, Redundant)

oo_HAWK_oo (1619801) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096651)

We have no nano cats to chase them!

Nanoo Nanoo! (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 5 years ago | (#29096893)

Never mind. Like anyone here knows/remembers Mork and Mindy.

Whoever tagged this 'backronym' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29096895)

needs to learn the definition of 'backronym'

Really? (1)

Spykk (823586) | more than 5 years ago | (#29097281)

Many sources are reporting that researchers have created the world's smallest laser since the inception of lasers almost a half-century ago.

How necessary is the end of that statement? Were they worried someone might assume a smaller laser had been created before the inception of lasers?

Re:Really? (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 5 years ago | (#29097481)

Depending on how you read it, it almost sounds like they were saying that the first laser ever made was the smallest one that had been created, until now. Which seems rather unlikely. But yeah, it was a silly choice of words.

Re:Really? (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 5 years ago | (#29098189)

Clearly they didn't want to count the lasers I will have created 500 years ago after I go back in time next week.

Parses and functions fine for me. (2, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#29098275)

Many sources are reporting that researchers have created the world's smallest laser since the inception of lasers almost a half-century ago.

How necessary is the end of that statement? Were they worried someone might assume a smaller laser had been created before the inception of lasers?

That formulation parses and functions for me.

It's a compact way of saying:
  - Lasers were invented almost a century ago.
  - Since then there has been a continuing series of inventions of progressively smaller lasers.
  - And with each of these inventions the inventor and/or the media went into a hype frenzy about the latest "world's smallest laser"
  - But there's something special about this one ...

And there is: It's the first one where the resonator (a size-limiting component) is MUCH smaller than a quarter-wavelength of the resonant frequency light.

And, as somebody who worked in a laser lab back in the late '60s and with cutting-edge semiconductors these days, I can attest that this little device is a BIG DEAL (TM).

I expect the next step - an electrically-pumped version - in a year or less. Followed by one that can be grown epitaxially on a wafer and hooked to a waveguide that's also built by stock chip manufacturing techniques. And that's the point where you switch to optics - first for getting signals on and off the chip (a BIG power eater), eventually maybe for getting signals around the chip.

Unless something BETTER comes along before then. (Which is the REAL reason most of these breakthroughs never make production.)

Re:Parses and functions fine for me. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#29098309)

- Lasers were invented almost a half century ago.

Shoulda previewed. B-(

Something missing. (0, Redundant)

Arimus (198136) | more than 5 years ago | (#29097391)

Just where do I get a nano shark to mount one of these ere lasers on?

One of the more interesting talks this week (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 5 years ago | (#29098421)

One of the more interesting talks this week at the UW [washington.edu] is the one on nano-ethics.

At first I thought this was going to be about the ethics of using nanotech to observe or interact, but now I'm starting to wonder if it has to do with the ethics of giving nanobots some frickin nano-lasers to rebel against us with.

Remind me to get some ablative undershorts.

Another Nano-Laser (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#29099227)

...was featured on the arxiv blog not long ago: First Free-Electron Light Source on a Chip [technologyreview.com] . Well, it isn't a Laser, yet. I know. But this also looks very promising for integrated optics and the team that's working on it want to get it lasing.

Could this mean.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29099539)

a PCI-X card using actual rays for ray tracing? I'd like that very much!

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