Feeds

Amazing 'pulse of darkness' ray tech birthed in US gov labs

IT use: Turns itself off then on again very quickly

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

US government boffins say they have invented a fiendishly cunning new kind of laser running on quantum dots which, rather than producing pulses of light, actually emits pulses of intense darkness.

Unsurprisingly but mildly sinisterly, the new invention has been dubbed the "dark pulse laser". It works using extremely clever quantum dots which unlike regular boring quantum dots are made out of "nanostructured semiconductor materials" grown in special US government labs.

"Quantum dots are known for unusual behaviour," according to a statement issued by the labs in question.

When electricity is put into these dots, the nano cunningness causes them all to behave like individual atoms and thus they all emit light at the same frequency in time with each other - hence it is coherent laser light.

But that's not the clever part. The clever part is this:

The new laser depends on the qdots' unusual energy dynamics, which have the effect of stabilizing dark pulses. After emitting light, qdots recover energy from within rapidly (in about 1 picosecond) but more slowly (in about 200 picoseconds) from energy inputs originating outside the qdots in the laser cavity. This creates a progression of overall energy gains gradually giving way to overall energy losses. Eventually, the laser reaches a steady state of repeated brief intensity dips—a drop of about 70 percent—from the continuous light background.

Thus the laser, brilliantly, is able to almost turn itself off and go dark. In itself this would be rather unimpressive, but the dark pulse laser goes briefly dark and then comes back on in just 90 picoseconds. As the dark-pulse can be measured, the laser is thus a means of measuring time very precisely.

The boffins of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, who unlocked the secrets of darkness, are chuffed as ninepence with their new kit. They consider that it could be handy in the next generation of optical atomic ultraclocks and/or superpowered networking and comms kit of the future.

Full details are published in the journal Optics Express, under the title Dark pulse quantum dot diode laser. The lead boffin of the push was Mingming Feng. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.