By SHUNSUKE KIMURA/ Staff Writer
(The Asahi Shimbun)
Researchers developed a device that produces a laser with the world’s shortest wavelength, a breakthrough that a Nobel laureate expects will lead to a sea change in manufacturing around the world.
Lasers are used in precision equipment and instruments, including medical and manufacturing tools. The shorter the wavelength of the laser, the more accurately it can cut, according to the team of scientists from Nagoya University and Asahi Kasei Corp.
The researchers said they used a semiconductor to make the device about one-hundred-millionth the size of a commercial laser generator.
The device can produce a laser with a wavelength of 271.8 nanometers (1 nanometer is one-billionth of a meter). The previously shortest wavelength of semiconductor equipment was 336 nanometers reported in 2008.
The laser device is expected to be combined with tiny endoscopes and used for other purposes.
“The smaller device will drastically change manufacturing all over the world,” Hiroshi Amano, a team member, who is an engineering professor at Nagoya University and shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014, told a news conference.
The team developed a higher-quality aluminum nitride substrate for the device, thus reducing electric resistance.
The world’s shortest wavelength was recorded at normal temperature with the pulse current applied for 50 nanoseconds.
The equipment can currently apply light for only an extremely short time. The team plans to improve the device with an eye on marketing it within several years.