Originally created 07/20/02

A new type of laser



BOULDER, Colo. - Researchers have developed a type of laser that may someday be used to make superfast computer chips and more powerful microscopes.

Current lasers use light from the visible, infrared and ultraviolet portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The new device uses extreme-ultraviolet light, which has wavelengths that are shorter than ultraviolet, visible and infrared light.

A shorter-wavelength laser would allow microchip manufacturers to cram more transistors onto each chip, making them faster, said Randy Bartels of JILA, a Boulder research institute operated by the University of Colorado and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. JILA was formerly called the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics.

Bartels is lead author of a research paper describing the discovery in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

An extreme-ultraviolet laser could someday be used to make microscopes that reveal a cell's inner workings in fine detail, Bartels said. It can also be used to make detailed holograms of small objects.

The new JILA extreme-ultraviolet laser is small enough to fit on a dining room table.

(Contact Jim Erickson of the Rocky Mountain News at http://www.rockymountainnews.com.)