Feeds

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

IT use: Turns itself off then on again very quickly

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.