Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Laser beam profiler


Beam profiles are commonly measured with complementary metal oxide semiconductors (CMOS) or charge coupled devices (CCD). The devices are fast and reliable but expensive. By making use of the fact that the Bayer-filter in commercial webcams is transparent in the near infra-red (>800 nm) and their CCD chips are sensitive up to about 1100 nm, we demonstrate a cheap and simple way to measure laser beam profiles with a resolution down to around ±1 μm, which is close to the resolution of the knife-edge technique.

Concepts: Electron, Light, Laser, Oxide, CMOS, Infrared, Light beam, Laser beam profiler


Laser-plasma wakefield accelerators have seen tremendous progress, now capable of producing quasi-monoenergetic electron beams in the GeV energy range with few-femtoseconds bunch duration. Scaling these accelerators to the nanocoulomb range would yield hundreds of kiloamperes peak current and stimulate the next generation of radiation sources covering high-field THz, high-brightness X-ray and γ-ray sources, compact free-electron lasers and laboratory-size beam-driven plasma accelerators. However, accelerators generating such currents operate in the beam loading regime where the accelerating field is strongly modified by the self-fields of the injected bunch, potentially deteriorating key beam parameters. Here we demonstrate that, if appropriately controlled, the beam loading effect can be employed to improve the accelerator’s performance. Self-truncated ionization injection enables loading of unprecedented charges of ∼0.5 nC within a mono-energetic peak. As the energy balance is reached, we show that the accelerator operates at the theoretically predicted optimal loading condition and the final energy spread is minimized.Higher beam quality and stability are desired in laser-plasma accelerators for their applications in compact light sources. Here the authors demonstrate in laser plasma wakefield electron acceleration that the beam loading effect can be employed to improve beam quality by controlling the beam charge.

Concepts: Electron, Electric charge, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Plasma, Particle accelerator, Laser beam profiler


A surface-emitting distributed feedback (DFB) laser with second-order gratings typically excites an antisymmetric mode that has low radiative efficiency and a double-lobed far-field beam. The radiative efficiency could be increased by using curved and chirped gratings for infrared diode lasers, plasmon-assisted mode selection for mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers (QCLs), and graded photonic structures for terahertz QCLs. Here, we demonstrate a new hybrid grating scheme that uses a superposition of second and fourth-order Bragg gratings that excite a symmetric mode with much greater radiative efficiency. The scheme is implemented for terahertz QCLs with metallic waveguides. Peak power output of 170 mW with a slope-efficiency of 993 mW A-1 is detected with robust single-mode single-lobed emission for a 3.4 THz QCL operating at 62 K. The hybrid grating scheme is arguably simpler to implement than aforementioned DFB schemes and could be used to increase power output for surface-emitting DFB lasers at any wavelength.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Electromagnetic spectrum, Infrared, Microwave, Terahertz radiation, Laser beam profiler


High-power lasers in the relativistic intensity regime with multi-picosecond pulse durations are available in many laboratories around the world. Laser pulses at these intensities reach giga-bar level radiation pressures, which can push the plasma critical surface where laser light is reflected. This process is referred to as the laser hole boring (HB), which is critical for plasma heating, hence essential for laser-based applications. Here we derive the limit density for HB, which is the maximum plasma density the laser can reach, as a function of laser intensity. The time scale for when the laser pulse reaches the limit density is also derived. These theories are confirmed by a series of particle-in-cell simulations. After reaching the limit density, the plasma starts to blowout back toward the laser, and is accompanied by copious superthermal electrons; therefore, the electron energy can be determined by varying the laser pulse length.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Laser, Nuclear fusion, Plasma, Reach, Laser beam profiler


Topological insulators are phases of matter characterized by topological edge states that propagate in a unidirectional manner that is robust to imperfections and disorder. These attributes make topological insulator systems ideal candidates for enabling applications in quantum computation and spintronics. Here, we propose a fundamentally new concept that exploits topological effects in a unique way: the topological insulator laser. These are lasers whose lasing mode exhibits topologically-protected transport without magnetic fields. The underlying topological properties lead to a highly efficient laser, robust to defects and disorder, with single mode lasing even at very high gain values. The topological insulator laser alters current understanding of the interplay between disorder and lasing, and at the same time opens exciting possibilities in topological physics, such as topologically-protected transport in systems with gain. On the technological side, the topological insulator laser provides a route to make many semiconductor lasers to operate as a single-mode high-power laser, while coupled efficiently into an output port.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Condensed matter physics, Laser, Laser pointer, Gallium arsenide, Gaussian beam, Transverse mode, Laser beam profiler


We report here an optically pumped hybrid III-V/Si photoic crystal surface emitting laser (PCSEL), consisting of a heterogeneously integrated III-V InGaAsP quantum well heterostructure gain medium, printed on a patterned defect-free Si photonic crystal (PC) bandedge cavity. Single mode lasing was achieved for a large area laser, with a side-mode suppression ratio of 28 dB, for lasing operation temperature ~200 K. Two types of lasers were demonstrated operating at different temperatures. Detailed modal analysis reveals the lasing mode matches with the estimated lasing gain threshold conditions. Our demonstration promises a hybrid laser sources on Si towards three-dimensional (3D) integrated Si photonics for on-chip wavelength-division multiplex (3D WDM) systems for a wide range of volume photonic/electronic applications in computing, communication, sensing, imaging, etc.

Concepts: Optics, Optical fiber, Laser, Photonics, Photonic crystal, Quantum optics, Transverse mode, Laser beam profiler


Random distributed feedback fiber Raman lasers, where the feedback mechanism is provided by Rayleigh backscattering, have attracted a good deal of attention since they were first introduced in 2010. Their simple and flexible design, combined with good lasing efficiency and beam quality properties, comparable to those of standard cavity lasers, have led to multiple applications, particularly in the fields of fiber sensing and optical communications. In spite of these advances, the polarization properties of random fiber Raman lasers, which can strongly affect their performance in both sensing and communications, have barely been explored so far. In this article we experimentally and theoretically study the polarization properties of different open-cavity laser designs, based on either standard transmission fibers or low polarization-mode-dispersion spun fibers. By using high-power, highly-polarized pumps, we demonstrate controllable polarization-pulling and simultaneous lasing at close wavelengths with different output polarization properties in random distributed feedback fiber Raman lasers. These results advance our understanding of the polarization dynamics in ultralong lasers, and pave the way to the design of novel fiber laser sources capable of polarization-sensitive sensing and distributed amplification.

Concepts: Light, Optical fiber, Laser, Oscillation, Control theory, Laser beam profiler, Fiber laser, Raman laser


The intensities of the order of 10(23-24) W/cm(2) are required to efficiently generate electron-positron pairs in laser-matter interaction when multiple laser beam collision is employed. To achieve such intense laser fields with the upcoming generation of 10 PW laser beams, focusing to sub-micron spot size is required. In this paper, the possibility of pair production cascade development is studied for the case of a standing wave created by two tightly focused colliding laser pulses. Even though the stronger ponderomotive force expels the seed particles from the interaction volume when a tightly focused laser beam is used, tight focusing allows to achieve cascade pair production due to the higher intensity in the focal spot. Optimizing the target density can compensate the expulsion by the ponderomotive force and lower the threshold power required for cascade pair production. This will in principle allow to produce pairs with 10 PW-class laser facilities which are now under construction and will become accessible soon.

Concepts: Light, Laser, Resonator, Gaussian beam, Infrared, Laser beam profiler, Maser, Raygun


Stimulated emission depletion microscopy provides a powerful sub-diffraction imaging modality for life science studies. Conventionally, stimulated emission depletion requires a relatively high light intensity to obtain an adequate depletion efficiency through only light-matter interaction. Here we show efficient emission depletion for a class of lanthanide-doped upconversion nanoparticles with the assistance of interionic cross relaxation, which significantly lowers the laser intensity requirements of optical depletion. We demonstrate two-color super-resolution imaging using upconversion nanoparticles (resolution ~ 66 nm) with a single pair of excitation/depletion beams. In addition, we show super-resolution imaging of immunostained cytoskeleton structures of fixed cells (resolution ~ 82 nm) using upconversion nanoparticles. These achievements provide a new perspective for the development of photoswitchable luminescent probes and will broaden the applications of lanthanide-doped nanoparticles for sub-diffraction microscopic imaging.

Concepts: Photon, Optics, Light, Laser, Stimulated emission, Microscope, Book of Optics, Laser beam profiler


The safety of laser pointers is a major public health issue since class I and II laser pointers are available worldwide and used as toys by children despite several reports cautioning such use. Here we present the first case of retinal injury caused by the laser beam of a toy laser pointer operated by a school boy and directed via the rear-view mirror of a bus into the eye of the driver. This case emphasises the great importance of cautious and appropriate use of low-energy laser pointers. Laser pointers of any class should not be made available to children because they are unlikely to understand the risks of such lasers when using them in play.

Concepts: Light, Laser, Laser diode, Laser pointer, English-language films, Laser applications, Lasers, Laser beam profiler