Antilaser Invented

Device acts like a laser in reverse, could become a silicon photonics component

3 min read

17 February 2011—Yale University physicists have built an antilaser, a device capable of completely absorbing coherent light beams instead of scattering them as most other things do. If such a device proves practical, it might provide a way to build miniature silicon optical switches or lead to new types of photonic sensors.

The device works on the same principle as a laser but in reverse, and uses "time-reversal symmetry," a concept from electromagnetic theory. In essence, explains A. Douglas Stone, a professor of applied physics at Yale, "anything that could go forwards, the same process could go backwards."

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