People Innovation Excellence

Laser Switches Insulator to Conductor and Back in Femtoseconds


11 December 2012—The best transistors today can switch on and off hundreds of billions of times a second. But laser pulses can be more than 10 000 times as quick. Now researchers in Germany have used such ultrashort laser pulses to induce current with the same kind of frequencies—creating an electric switch with laser speed.

“Laser pulses are the shortest signal you can generate,” says Martin Schultze, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, in Garching, Germany, who was involved in the work and is currently a visiting scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. “They are much faster than anything electronic.” 
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