April 25, 2014
Spaser Technology Could Make A Printable Smartphone Possible
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
According to a new report in the journal ACS Nano, a team of Australian engineers have modelled a kind of laser called a “spaser” that would allow for the creation of smartphones so small and flexible – they could be printed on a t-shirt.Simply put, spasers are nanoscale lasers that emit a beam of light via the vibration of free electrons, as opposed to the relatively space-consuming beam of a traditional laser. While spasers, short for surface plasmon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, have been made before – the new spaser described in the report would be made from carbon.
“Other spasers designed to date are made of gold or silver nanoparticles and semiconductor quantum dots while our device would be comprised of a graphene resonator and a carbon nanotube gain element,” study author Chanaka Rupasinghe, an engineering postgraduate student at Australia’s Monash University, said in a recent statement.
“The use of carbon means our spaser would be more robust and flexible, would operate at high temperatures, and be eco-friendly,” Chanaka said. “Because of these properties, there is the possibility that in the future an extremely thin mobile phone could be printed on clothing.”
Spaser-based gadgets would be a replacement for existing transistor-based device components – including microprocessors, memory, and displays – that would address current miniaturizing and bandwidth restrictions.
The scientists said their spaser would be built using graphene and carbon nanotubes, which are over a hundred times harder than steel and have superior heat and electricity conduction capabilities. They can also tolerate much higher temperatures.
The study team showed that graphene and carbon nanotubes can interrelate and transport energy to each other via light. These optical relationships are very quick and energy-efficient, making them suitable for computer processors and other uses.
“Graphene and carbon nanotubes can be used in applications where you need strong, lightweight, conducting, and thermally stable materials due to their outstanding mechanical, electrical and optical properties,” Chanaka said. “They have been tested as nanoscale antennas, electric conductors and waveguides.”
He added that a spaser creates high-intensity electrical fields focused into a nanoscale space. These are generally much stronger than others fields produced by illuminating metal nanoparticles with a laser in applications like cancer treatment.
“Scientists have already found ways to guide nanoparticles close to cancer cells. We can move graphene and carbon nanotubes following those techniques and use the high concentrate fields generated through the spasing phenomena to destroy individual cancer cells without harming the healthy cells in the body,” Chanaka said
Institutions have been heavily investing in spaser technology recently as Georgia State University announced in December that it was creating the Center for Nano-Optics to research and develop the emerging technology.
“Creation of the Center for Nano-Optics is an important next step for the university,” said James Weyhenmeyer, vice president of research and economic development. “Under the leadership of Georgia State Physics Professor Mark Stockman, a group of physics faculty will expand the university’s nanotechnology focus and continue the development of two university inventions – the spaser and the nanoplasmonic metal funnel.”