Faster, faster, more and more data. Our demands for Internet speed are outpacing the technology. UC San Diego alum Janelle Shane has an answer: lasers.
As we try to fit more and more data on wires, we are running up against the limit of what electricity can do. Wires heat up, and interfere with each other. Fiber-optic cables, using light instead of electricity, have solved many of these problems for long-distance transfer – but inside your computer or your cell phone, the problems persist.
Janelle Shane, alum to the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, shows how lasers could provide the next breakthrough for data transfer. But first, how can we shrink a laser to work on the scale of a microchip?
Read more about Janelle Shane’s work with whispering gallery lasers: Lasers could make the Internet faster – and cleaner.
From an electrical engineering researcher at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego:
“It resembles a mushroom cloud, but in fact, it’s one of our microscopic nanolasers, imaged under an electron microscope. These lasers are among the smallest in the world, so small you could fit a billion of them on an iPhone home button, small enough to one day fit easily on a computer chip to help computers send data using light.
Here, you see the laser partway through our fabrication process, a process that can take a week or more. In the previous step, the laser was coated with a puffy layer of glassy material, used to keep the laser light from leaking away and to keep the laser’s two electrical contacts separated. At the center beneath this smooth white layer lies the actual laser core. When my labmate Qing gets to this step, it comes with a sense of relief, since the glassy layer helps strengthen the laser, keeping it from snapping in half. When this laser’s eventually finished, it will be encapsulated in a thin shell of metal, and emit light through its base.”
The hope is that this technology will one day produce much faster computer chips.