As posted on Physics News Update 776, a solid has been made to produce laser light without the normal population inversion that is required in a ‘normal’ laser. In a standard laser, a significant majority of the valence electrons must be maintained in an excited state (population inversion) in order to sustain laser activity. In this system, through the effects of ’"electromagnetically induced transparency":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagneticallyinducedtransparency, the electrons could mostly be kept from absorbing laser light being developed among the small number of atoms in a sample actually in an excited state.’
The most obvious applications for this technology are in reducing power consumption. For instance, by replacing the current laser systems in the fiber optic network with these materials, the recurring costs of running our networks could, in principle, be reduced. Also, while keeping our information flowing for less is a good thing, these materials would help keep the batteries in your laser pointer going longer. Other possible applications are available at the Laser Applications Lab.
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