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EETE SEPTEMBER 2012

MATERIAL SCIENCES First microwave laser to operate at room temperature By Nick Flaherty ScieNtiStS iN the uk have developed the first solid-state mase at room temperature while consuming less power than MASER to operate at room temperature, paving the way for its pentacene-doped p-terphenyl. widespread adoption. The researchers from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and Imperial College London suggest that room- While the world benefi ts temperature MASERs could be used to make more sensitive medical instru- ments for scanning patients, improved chemical sensors for remotely detect- from what’s new, IEEE can ing explosives; lower-noise read-out mechanisms for quantum computers focus you on what’s next. and better radio telescopes for poten- tially detecting life on other planets. The microwave equivalent of a laser, masers deliver a concentrated beam of micro- waves by amplifying microwaves using hard inorganic crystals such as ruby. But they have always required extreme con- ditions such as extremely low pressures or temperatures close to absolute zero (-273.15°C), as well as strong magnetic fields from large magnets. The team have demonstrated pulse masing in a solid-state device working in air at room temperature with no applied magnetic field. This could dramatically Develop for tomorrow with reduce the cost to manufacture and today’s most-cited research. operate a MASeR, which could lead to them becoming as widely used as laser Over 3 million full-text technical documents technology in a wide range of applica- tions. can power your R&D and speed time to market. “For half a century the MASER has been the forgotten, inconvenient cousin • IEEE Journals and Conference Proceedings of the laser. Our design breakthrough • IEEE Standards will enable MASERs to be used by • IEEE-Wiley eBooks Library industry and consumers,” said Dr Mark Oxborrow, co-author of the study at • IEEE eLearning Library NPL. The team used a completely differ- • Plus content from select publishing partners ent type of crystal, namely p-terphenyl doped with pentacene, to replace ruby and replicate the same masing process IEEE Xplore® Digital Library at room temperature. As a curious twist, the pentacene dopant turns the other- Discover a smarter research experience. wise colourless p-terphenyl crystal an intense reddish pink. The first device only works in pulsed mode for fractions of a second at a time. They aim to get it to operate continously over a range of microwave frequencies, instead of its current narrow bandwidth, Request a Free Trial which would make the technology more www.ieee.org/tryieeexplore useful. In the long-term, the team has a range of other goals including the iden- tification of different materials that can 11-PIM-0544d_Xplore_WhatsNext_5x7.875_FINAL..indd 1 12/16/11 9:30 AM www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe September 2012 15


EETE SEPTEMBER 2012
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