Researchers the world round are working to develop optical chips, where light can be controlled with nanostructures. These could be used for future circuits based on light (photons) instead of electron – that is photonics instead of electronics. But it has proved to be impossible to achieve perfect photonic nanostructures: they are inevitably a little bit imperfect. Now researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute in collaboration with DTU have discovered that imperfect nanostructures can offer entirely new functionalities. They have shown that imperfect optical chips can be used to produce ‘nanolasers’, which is an ultimately compact and energy-efficient light source. The results are published in the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology. Professor Peter Lodahl, Assistant Professor David Garcia and Associate Professor Søren Stobbe from the Niels Bohr Institute designed the photonic crystal and carried out the experimental studies in the research group’s laboratories. The researchers are working with extremely small photonic crystal membranes – the width of the membrane is 25 micrometer (1 micrometer is one thousandth of a millimeter), and the thickness is 340 nanometers (1 nanometer is one thousandth of a micrometer). The crystals are made of the semiconducting material gallium arsenide (GaAs). A pattern of holes
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