Researchers in Eindhoven have developed a new type of low-energy, nanoscale laser that shines in all directions. The key to its omnidirectional light emission is the introduction of something that is usually highly undesirable in nanotechnology: irregularities in the materials. The researchers foresee a vast range of potential applications, but first they hope their fundamental work will inspire others to further improve it and deepen the understanding. The results are published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
Lack of control of the variables determining the response of a system is usually seen as a curse in science and technology. But what about a slight pinch of imperfection and disorder? Imperfections and irregularities are unavoidable in nanoscience due to our limited level of control of nanofabrication processes. Disorder is potentially detrimental to nanosystems, but if well-contained, disorder might not be an intruder after all, leading to novel physical concepts and applications.