Berkeley Scientists Makes Major Laser Breakthrough
Feb. 13 - KGO (KGO) -- For some scientists at U.C. Berkeley -- it's all about the mirror. Engineers there have come up with an invention that could have wide-ranging applications for consumer electronics that haven't even been invented yet.
Professor Connie Chang-Hasnain and graduate students in her electrical engineering lab found a way to make a better mirror that can improve the performance of lasers, and may usher in an era of new products.
Prof. Connie Chang-Hasnain, U.C. Berkeley Electrical Engineering: "Oh absolutely -- it will open up the door for many, many new devices that we cannot even at this point envision or imagine."
From research in the lab, they used the university's clean room to manufacture a mirror that's dramatically thinner, more highly reflective and capable of using a wider spectrum of light. As a result, the mirror can be produced at lower cost, and perform at greater efficiency, allowing the laser to use less power.
Prof. Connie Chang-Hasnain: "The simplest thing to think about the battery operated CD players and DVD. If the power consumption can be reduced and the battery either can be lighter, or it can be lasting a lot longer."
The most immediate application may be in high definition DVD players. The researchers say the laser is the most expensive part of the player, but their inexpensive, efficient mirror could bring the cost way down.
Mike Huang, graduate student: "For a really long time we couldn't get our device to really demonstrate our original concept -- so I guess at that point we just keep on trying."
They say it took about a year for their perseverance to pay off.
Mervin Zhou, graduate student: "We actually failed many, many times, but luckily one day we successfully solved our problem, and we made our device work."
They were inspired by the door of a microwave oven, with its single layer mesh mirror, that reflects the microwaves back inside.
Prof. Connie Chang-Hasnain: "So we looked at that configuration, and we said, 'Why can't we make that in the optical domain for the lasers?'"
They've already applied for a patent, and are waiting for industry to come looking for ways to apply their new technology.
- Magnitude 8.2 earthquake hits Russia's Far East
- Bicyclist killed in accident with garbage truck in SF
- Gov. Brown keeps pressing climate change crusade
- Video: America's Cup teams practice on San...
- TIME publishes Obama prom photo, yearbook message
- Caltrans shows fix for broken Bay Bridge bolts
- Oakland's real estate market heats up
- abcnews: New bill would allow pets on Amtrak
- roundup: BART bike vote; Gov. climate change
- weather: Bay Area weather forecast for Friday