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UCSB Physicists mix 2 lasers to create light at many frequencies
Date:3/31/2012

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) A team of physicists at UC Santa Barbara has seen the light, and it comes in many different colors. By aiming high- and low-frequency laser beams at a semiconductor, the researchers caused electrons to be ripped from their cores, accelerated, and then smashed back into the cores they left behind. This recollision produced multiple frequencies of light simultaneously. Their findings appear in the current issue of the science journal Nature.

"This is a very remarkable phenomenon. I have never seen anything like this before," said Mark Sherwin, whose research group made the groundbreaking discovery. Sherwin is a professor of physics at UCSB and a co-author of the paper. He is also director of the campus's Institute for Terahertz Science and Technology.

When the high-frequency optical laser beam hits the semiconductor material in this case, gallium arsenide nanostructures it creates an electron-hole pair called an exciton. The electron is negatively charged, and the hole is positively charged, and the two are bound together by their mutual attraction. "The high-frequency laser creates electrons and holes," Sherwin explained. "The very strong, low-frequency free electron laser beam rips the electron away from the hole and accelerates it. As the low-frequency field oscillates, it causes the electron to come careening back to the hole." The electron has excess energy because it has been accelerated, and when it slams back into the hole, the recombined electron-hole pair emits photons at new frequencies.

"It's fairly routine to mix the lasers and get one or two new frequencies, Sherwin continued. "But to see all these different new frequencies, up to 11 in our experiment, is the exciting phenomenon. Each frequency corresponds to a different color."

In terms of real-world applications, the electron-hole recollision phenomenon has the potential to significantly increase the speed of data transfer and c
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Contact: Andrea Estrada
andrea.estrada@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-4620
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

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