New solar material makes for cheap lasers

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Good news for Doctor Evil! Making frikkin’ laser beams for sharks just got a little easier and less expensive, thanks to a new solar material called perovskites. Recently, two research groups came together at a meeting of the Materials Research Society to demonstrate how this material actually works.

Perovskites, which are made from calcium titanium oxide, are currently being tested in solar cells with remarkable results. In tests, solar cells with perovskites, can convert twice as much energy as conventional solar cells. Even more importantly, perovskites are derived from a combination of nature and simple chemistry, making them inexpensive to produce. Now, scientists are discovering a hidden talent of the material: that it can be used to make lasers.

Laser beams aren’t just for cool scifi-like weapons or cat toys, though. The beams are also handy in telecommunications because they’re really fast and can be split up to represent series of 0’s and 1’s, as modern data communication requires. However, modern lasers are both difficult and expensive to make. The materials that make the lasers have to be perfect, with zero imperfections and require a lot of time and expensive equipment. Perovskites, however, are different. Not only are they easy and inexpensive to make, but they also come out in perfect form.

At the meeting, scientists from the University of Toronto demonstrated the perovskites’ ability to make lasers by blasting them in spherical form with ultraviolet light. This light bounced around inside the spheres and came out at one frequency, as infrared laser light. Scientists from the University of Oxford also demonstrated their own research: they placed their perovskites between laser mirrors and had similar results.

Of course, using a laser to create a laser isn’t an ideal situation to prove the potential of using this new material for laser-making. Both research teams are looking to take the additional lasers required out of the equation and create something that can be plugged into an electrical outlet instead. However, both universities believe that this research continues to prove the potential for perovskites use outside of solar power.

Via Science Now

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