May 24, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Quantum Computing Laser The Size of A Grain of Rice―Coming To A Screen Near You

Jan 16, 2015 07:38 PM EST

Rice is a staple starch in numerous countries. Affordable, easy to store and prepare, it's synonymous with sustenance to many. However, a sole grain of rice is anything but filling; it is, however, small. Now, imagine a laser producing electrode that size. It's like something straight out of a low-budget Sci-Fi film. But now it's a realitya laser of equal size has been created by a few researchers at Princeton University, representing a "quantum" leap in future technology.

"It is basically as small as you can go with these single-electron devices" lead researchers of the team constructing the miniscule laser, Dr. Jason Petta says. The technology at the core of the lasers are "quantum dots," petite particles that are capable of converting an absorbed wavelength into another.

This groundbreaking development may lead to improvements in the technology we use in our everyday lives. For example, LCD screens on some of our favorite devices―you're probably viewing this article one such a screen as well―will become sharper, more durable with a decrease in "dead pixels." Companies like Apple and Samsung are already looking into the technology for later product integration.

Creating the microwave lasers, or "masers" as they're known by the researchers, proved to be a creative endeavor. Linking pairs of quantum dots with nanowiring techniques, they were able to produce beams of microwave energy, paired with a low-voltage battery. Not only would this technology provide an LCD with an improved range of displayable colors, but the energy conserving "skipping over stream rocks" electron delivery would ultimately improve battery life and longevity for equipped devices.

"The remarkable feature of this device is that it is 'pumped' by single electrons tunneling from one quantum dot to another," Petta says. "It is like a line of people crossing a wide stream by leaping onto a rock so small that it can only hold one person. They are forced to cross the stream one at a time."

Dr. Jason Petta's findings and analysis were published in the lastest issue of the journal Science this week.

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