Sebastien Sanaur, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Étienne, France, and colleagues have invented a laser which is extremely easy and inexpensive to manufacture.
The concentrated, directed photons of laser light can be produce with organic materials. Such lasers are cheap. However, the active medium degrades very quickly, so they do not last long. To circumvent this problem, Sanaur and his team developed a light-generating medium printed by an inkjet printer. A dye-containing specialty ink is applied in small squares (50 mm2) at room temperature to a carrier material. The laser medium is so simple and so cheap to make, that it can be discarded and replaced. This printed laser chip, which costs a few cents, forms the core of the disposable laser, the light-generating laser medium. It is inserted into a frame with the durable laser components: the module and the mirrors.
Depending on the composition of the ink, lasers of different wavelengths can be produced. The inkjet-printed organic laser enables high-energy (>30 μJ) and a high conversion efficiency (>30%) in a diffraction-limited beam.
The researchers see their work as a step towards the fabrication of really low-cost tunable visible lasers with an affordable technology that has the potential to be widely disseminated.
- Inkjet-printed vertically emitting solid-state organic lasers,
Oussama Mhibik, Sébastien Chénais, Sébastien Forget, Christophe Defranoux, Sébastien Sanaur,
J. Appl. Phys. 2016, 119, 173101