Bright prospects for revolutionary optics research

The light sources of the future can be created with the help of lasers and artificial surfaces - meta surfaces - thinner than a wavelength of light. Optics research is facing a revolutionary development. Researchers at Chalmers are at the forefront in this field and have been granted more than SEK 38 million in funding from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. ​
Vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) are becoming the laser of choice for a rapidly increasing number of applications, including optical communication and 3D sensing for smart phones and autonomous vehicles. 

“By combining world-leading expertise on VCSEL and nanophotonics research, we take on the challenge of merging the fields of semiconductor laser technology and flat optics based on 2D nanophotonic metasurfaces to realize monolithic metasurface emitting lasers (MELs). We believe that this new miniaturized light source will be so powerful, versatile, compact, cost- and energy-effcient that it will have disruptive and generic impact on photonics across a huge range of fields and applications,” says Professor Mikael Käll at the Department of Physics at Chalmers and Principal Investigator of the project “Metasurface-Emitting Lasers: Tomorrows Light Sources for Applied Photonics”. 

With the help of the new technology, the researchers can control light in sophisticated ways.  For example, metasurface emitting lasers could be used to create light fields for optical sensing in three dimensions, to generate extremely strong laser beams and for applications within biophotonics. 
Mikael Käll and his research colleagues in the project have expertise in nanooptics, vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, optical calculation methods, and biophotonics. Furthermore, they have access to world-leading infrastructure at Chalmers.

Out of the 18 projects, three will be conducted at Chalmers.​ At the Department of Physics, Associate Professor Andreas Heinz will lead a project about the creation of heavy elements in neutron-star mergers. At the Department of Space, Earth and Environment, Professor Kirsten Kraiberg Knudsen will lead a project on the origin and fate of dust in our universe​

Text: Mia Halleröd Palmgren
Portrait photo: Anna-Lena Lundqvist​
Image: Daniel Andrén  -​ Section of a metalens fabricated in the cleanroom at Chalmers.

More on the project and the financier:

The research project "Metasurface-Emitting Lasers: Tomorrows Light Sources for Applied Photonics” has been granted SEK 38,100,000 over five years by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.
Professor Mikael Käll is the Principal Investigator of the project and the work will be carried out in collaboration with Professor Åsa Haglund​, Professor Anders Larsson, Associate Professor Philippe Tassin and Associate Professor Ruggero Verre
The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation​ is Sweden's largest private research funder and one of the largest in Europe.

Published: Wed 30 Sep 2020.