MIT has demonstrated a laser that's built from germanium and that works at room temperature, a move the university said could be useful for high-speed optical data pathways within computers.
Lasers today are widely used to transmit large amounts of data over long distances, but the technology isn't economical for short-haul trips. However, many researchers are investigating ways to integrate lasers directly with conventional computer chips in an effort to reduce those costs and make high-speed communications more widespread.
Today's lasers typically are made from gallium arsenide and other expensive materials that have to be attached to computing chips after each component has been separately manufactured. In a paper to be published in Optics Letters, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers said Thursday they made the germanium lasers work using a technology called indirect-band-gap semiconductors that other researchers thought wouldn't work. And the germanium technology is more easily integrated during manufacturing with today's chips. … Read more