A lab setup used to operate a deep-ultraviolet laser-emitting device. (Credit: Cornell University)

Engineers have created a deep-ultraviolet (UV) laser using semiconductor materials that show great promise for improving the use of UV light for sterilizing medical tools, among other applications. The aluminum gallium nitride-based device is capable of emitting a deep-UV laser at sought-after wavelengths and modal line widths. The team used molecular beam epitaxy, a crystal growth technique, to grow a high-quality crystal of aluminum nitride.

The second challenge was to create an optical cavity from the stacked layers that could be used to trap the emitted light and promote stimulated emission, which is necessary for the laser. The cavity was created in the form of a small, micron-scale resonator on an aluminum nitride chip.

The laser was able to achieve peak gain at a wavelength of 284 nm and modal line widths on the order of 0.1 nm. The line width is an order of magnitude more precise than similar devices and demonstrates the growth method’s applicability toward improved ultraviolet light emitters.

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