A team at University of Wales, Bangor, led by Professor Alan Shore, has completed theoretical work showing that it is possible to generate light for data transmission from lasers a thousand times quicker than existing laser systems.
This is achieved using a unipolar semiconductor laser instead of a bipolar semiconductor laser.
The difference between the two lies in complex electron physics.
A normal laser involves the excitation of atoms to produce photons – parcels of laser light. In bipolar lasers a neutral or negatively charged atom combines with a positively charged atom and discharges an electron accompanied by the release of a photon.
With unipolar lasers, the semiconductor can shift the energy level of either a positively or negatively charged atom into a lower energy state to produce photons. It is this process involving a single atom – as opposed to a combination of two – that is quicker by a magnitude of a thousand.