Saturday, February 19, 2011

Scientists build the world's first anti-laser

Depiction of the anti-laser in actionPhysicists have built the world's first device that can cancel out a laser beam - a so-called anti-laser.

The device, created by a team from Yale University, is capable of absorbing an incoming laser beam entirely.

But this is not intended as a defence against high-power laser weapons, the researchers said.

Instead they think it could be used in next-generation supercomputers which will be built with components that use light rather than electrons.

Professor Douglas Stone and colleagues at Yale University had initially been developing a theory to explain which materials could be used as the basis of lasers. ...

Recent advances in laser design have resulted in a number of unusual devices that do not fit the traditional concept of a laser, Professor Stone explained.

"So we were working on a theory that could predict what could be used to form a laser," he said.

That theory also predicted that instead of amplifying light into coherent pulses, as a laser does, it should be possible to create a device that absorbs laser light hitting it, said Professor Stone - an anti-laser.

They have now succeeded in building one.

Their device focuses two lasers beams of a specific frequency into a specially designed optical cavity made from silicon, which traps the incoming beams of light and forces them to bounce around until all their energy is dissipated.

In a paper published in the journal Science they demonstrated that the anti-laser could adsorb 99.4 per cent of incoming light, for a specific wavelength. ...

via BBC News - Scientists build the world's first anti-laser.

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