Boffins create disposable lasers

White laserFrench Researchers have worked out a way of creating cheap lasers with an inkjet printer which can be thrown away after it’s been used once.

Sébastien Sanaur, an associate professor in the Center of Microelectronics in Provence at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Étienne in France said that the low cost and easiness of laser chip fabrication are the most significant aspects of his teams results.

Organic lasers are not as common as inorganic lasers, like those found in laser pointers, DVD players, and optical mice, but they offer benefits such as high-yield photonic conversion, easy fabrication, low-cost and a wide range of wavelengths.

One obstacle that has held back organic lasers they degrade quickly – but that hurdle might be less daunting if the lasers are so cheap they could be thrown out when they fail.

The researchers used two different types of dyes to produce laser emission ranging from yellow to deep red. The ink was printed in small square shapes onto a quartz slide.

The dyed ink acted as the core of the laser, called a gain medium.  A gain medium amplifies light and produces the characteristically narrow, single-colour laser beam.

A laser also requires mirrors to reflect light back and forth through the gain medium and an energy source, called a pump, to keep the light amplification going. The disposable part of the new laser is the printed gain medium, which the researchers call the ‘lasing capsule.’

The researches could build one for only a few cents.  The lasing capsule could be easily swapped out when it deteriorates.