Print 17 comment(s) - last by iiiears.. on Dec 12 at 4:05 PM

Breakthrough microlaser is easy to build and cheap

Scientists in Slovenia has made a breakthrough that has resulted in the world's first microlaser that emits in 3D. The new 3D microlaser was created at the Jožef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The laser that has been developed is small, tunable, and cheap to build making it the world's first practical 3D laser. The laser has been described in a recent issue of Optics Express and was developed by Matjaž Humar and Igor Muševic. The laser is a microdroplet 3D laser system that allows light to shine in all directions using a dye molecule lodged inside spherical drops of helical molecules that are dispersed in a liquid.

Muševic said, "This is the first practical 3-D laser ever produced." He believes that millions of the microdroplet lasers can be made in seconds and can then be used in coherent light emitters. The helical molecules used in the novel lasers are choleric liquid crystals that are similar to the key molecules used inside LCDs.

The molecules don’t mix well with the polymer liquid that surrounds them. The inability of the two to mix creates an index of refraction that varies periodically outward through the body of the 15 micron droplets. The researchers describe the molecules like an onion with the layers corresponding to materials with different index of refraction.

The active medium inside the new lasers is the florescent dye molecules that are inside the liquid crystals. The lasers are very easy to build because the molecules self assemble according to chemistry meaning that no fabrication process is needed.

"Scientists have been trying to make these lasers from solid state materials, but you can imagine how difficult it is to make hundreds of alternating shells of optical materials, which should be very uniform," said Muševic. "The beauty of our approach is that such a 3-D onion droplet is self-assembled in a fraction of a second."

The scientists also say that the laser can be tuned without needing to replace the droplets. Tuning can be done my modifying the temperature of the laser and possibly by applying an additional electric filed.

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Whats it for ?
By Silver2k7 on 12/10/2010 7:48:53 AM , Rating: 2
Is this to make 3D Displays that will not require glasses ??

RE: Whats it for ?
By wushuktl on 12/10/2010 8:39:55 AM , Rating: 3
yeah that's great and all but the article doesn't talk about what this would do for anything

RE: Whats it for ?
By BladeVenom on 12/10/2010 9:02:12 AM , Rating: 5
It's for small sharks.

RE: Whats it for ?
By brshoemak on 12/10/2010 10:19:16 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Whats it for ?
By Omega215D on 12/10/2010 10:33:26 AM , Rating: 4
Not just any small sharks but Mini Sharks *holds pinky to mouth*

RE: Whats it for ?
By Flunk on 12/10/2010 8:56:56 AM , Rating: 2
Micro lasers are normally used in the construction of optronic computer equipment.

RE: Whats it for ?
By ertomas on 12/10/2010 10:43:09 AM , Rating: 2
Of course! Optronics!

RE: Whats it for ?
By nafhan on 12/10/2010 11:08:17 AM , Rating: 2
It sounds like 3D means it's something to do with being able to make lasers go in multiple directions at once from a single emitter. My guess is that it's intended usage is for structured-light 3D scanning.

RE: Whats it for ?
By Guspaz on 12/10/2010 12:13:24 PM , Rating: 3
You know what else can make light go in multiple directions at once from a single emitter? A lightbulb.

RE: Whats it for ?
By Smartless on 12/10/2010 2:11:22 PM , Rating: 2
He's actually right, the source article says its for creating 3D scan images from the inside. I've seen a surveying unit that shoots lasers in all directions to do a 3d survey topography though the farther you get from a target, the less detailed the topographic points.

RE: Whats it for ?
By Jaybus on 12/11/2010 10:24:24 AM , Rating: 2
But a lightbulb doesn't produce coherent light, so isn't as useful in an imaging system.

RE: Whats it for ?
By DEVGRU on 12/10/2010 1:04:48 PM , Rating: 3
Move over Radar, its time for LIDAR!

RE: Whats it for ?
By ClownPuncher on 12/10/2010 2:24:07 PM , Rating: 2
Will LIDAR still order grape knee-highs?

RE: Whats it for ?
By foolsgambit11 on 12/11/2010 12:58:39 PM , Rating: 2
Grape Nehis.

Back on the article, is it supposed to be cholesteric liquid crystals? I couldn't find a definition of what a choleric liquid crystal was, but I could find cholesteric liquid crystals.

And I'm still confused as to what a very small 3d laser like this is good for. Could it really be used to emit enough of a beam for useful 3d scanning, or are there other uses for 3d lasers out there? Is this something optical computer development has been looking for, and for what purpose?

RE: Whats it for ?
By overzealot on 12/11/2010 11:30:36 PM , Rating: 2
Every other site reporting this news uses cholesteric, and the definition seems correct so I think you're right.

RE: Whats it for ?
By Jaybus on 12/11/2010 10:33:53 AM , Rating: 2
And no matter how stealthy an aircraft, a 3D LIDAR with a 405 nm or so wavelength could see the high velocity exhaust from its jet engines.

RE: Whats it for ?
By iiiears on 12/12/2010 4:05:18 PM , Rating: 2
Or a human neural machine interface

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