With a device smaller than the width of a human hair, researchers will get greaterinsight into microscopic cells in order to understand and test different drug therapies. The water-wave laser is the brainchild of Prof. Tal Carmon, who is head of theOptomechanics Center at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.
The innovation came when Prof. Carmon connected two areas of research that had been previously considered unrelated: nonlinear optics and water waves. The possibility of creating a laser through the interaction of light with water waves had not been previously examined due to the huge difference in frequency between waves of water and waves of light.
A typical laser can be created by electron oscillations in atoms, causing them to emit radiation in the form of laser light. Prof. Carmon and team have now shown that waterwave oscillations within a liquid device can also generate laser radiation. An optical fiber delivers light into a tiny droplet of oil submerged in water. Light waves and water waves pass through each other, inside this droplet, approximately one million times, generating the energy that leaves the droplet as the emission of a waterwave laser.
The interaction between fiber optic light and the miniscule vibrations on the surface of the droplet are like an echo, where the interaction of sound waves and the surface they pass through can make a single scream audible several times. In order to increase this echo effect in their device, the researchers used highly transparent, runny liquids, to encourage light and droplet interactions.
Published in Nature Photonics, the research opens new horizons for scientists studying theinteraction of light and liquid phase matter at a scale smaller than the width of a human hair. The team included students Shmuel Kaminski, Leopoldo Martin, and Shai Maayani. Carmon did his postdoctoral research at CalTech, and recently returned to his alma mater the Technion from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where he served as a tenured professor.
Prof. Tal Carmon holds the Leona Chanin Career Development Chair.