See Inside February 2007

Making Silicon Lasers

Scientists have at last persuaded silicon to emit laser beams. In a few years, computers and other devices will handle light as well as electrons

Low-cost silicon chips enable engineers to manipulate streams of electrons so that they can perform the myriad functions that make our computers, cellular phones and other consumer electronics so useful. If integrated silicon circuits could similarly create and control beams of light, they could make possible a range of inexpensive new technologies suited to many other applications. But for decades, silicon's very nature has thwarted scientists' dogged efforts to transform the material into a source of the necessary concentrated light.

Now several research groups, starting with mine, have coaxed silicon to produce laser light. The advance could have enormous implications for electronic devices that incorporate lasers and optical amplifiers, which currently rely on lasing materials that are far more costly and less common than silicon.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Scientific American Mind Digital

Get 6 bi-monthly digital issues
+ 1yr of archive access for just $9.99

Hurry this offer ends soon! >


Email this Article


Next Article