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A team of optics researchers from the University of Central Florida has demonstrated the first-ever nonmagnetic topological insulator laser, a finding that has the potential to substantially improve the efficiency, beam quality, and resilience of semiconductor laser arrays.

These results are presented in two research papers, one describing the theory of topological lasers and the other experiments, published in Science.

The project, led by Professors Mercedeh Khajavikhan and Demetrios Christodoulides of the College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL) and their graduate students Steffen Wittek, Midya Parto and Jinhan Ren, was conducted in conjunction with a team from Technion -- Israel that includes Moti Segev, Miguel Bandres, and Gal Harari. The theoretical component of the work was initiated by the Technion team, while the experimental part was carried out at CREOL.

The teams were interested in solving a long-standing problem in laser physics that perplexed scientists for the past 40 years: how to create a high-power, ultimately focusable, and single frequency semiconductor laser array that does not lose efficiency even when its sub-elements fail or malfunction. Such a laser is expected to find applications in numerous areas of science and technology. The answer to this problem came from a rather unexpected place.

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Category: Science