A New Laser Source For Faster Fiber Optics

Like new-age alchemists, researchers at Cornell University have cooked up a different way to make lasers. Materials scientists Christopher K. Ober and Hogan Martin start with a plastic that contains silicon and magnesium. Then, they heat it to 900 degrees Celsius to burn off the organic base material. What's left is a glassy ceramic called forsterite. When forsterite contains a small amount of chromium, it acts as a laser in the near-infrared range--the wavelengths that can be used for telecommunications via fiber optics.

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