Optical gain — the ability of a material to amplify light or photons — is the fundamental concept that drives all lasers. To produce optical gain, electrons are injected into a semiconductor material.
Semiconductors convert energy to power for electronics. Injecting an electrical current into a semiconductor material, such as silicon or gallium nitride, produces negatively charged electrons and positively charged particles called holes. In conventional semiconductors, when the electrons and holes reach a high enough density, they form an electron-hole gas and optical gain occurs.
Researchers have discovered a process of physics that enables low-power nanolasers to be produced in 2D semiconductor materials. Understanding the physics behind nanolasers and how they interact with semiconductors can have major implications for high-speed communication channels for supercomputers and data centers. This development would be game-changing for energy-efficient photonics, or light-based devices, and provide an alternative to conventional semiconductors, which are limited in their ability to create and maintain enough excitons.