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Power Hardware Technology

Cooler Silicon Lasers Via Energy Harvesting 31

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the more-power-to-ya dept.
Light Licker writes "UCLA researchers have developed a way to cut power use and heat output from a silicon laser used for optoelectronics. Both have been problems because silicon absorbs too much light — producing high-energy free electrons that make heat. One of Intel's best silicon lasers produced 125 times more heat than usable light. The UCLA team added a diode to their laser which can harvest free electrons and use them to help power the circuit — simultaneously cutting heat output and power use."
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Cooler Silicon Lasers Via Energy Harvesting

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  • by Corpuscavernosa (996139) on Friday May 04, 2007 @02:12PM (#18992049)
    You'd think Intel would know that Radio Shack carries a wide variety...
    • "Wide variety" (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheReckoning (638253)
      You haven't been to a Radio Shack lately, have you? They have almost nothing.

      "You've got questions, we've got Blank Stares"
      • True, I haven't been there in awhile...

        From the Onion: Even CEO Can't Figure Out How Radio Shack Still In Business [theonion.com]

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "You've got questions, we've got Blank Stares"
        Or "You've got questions, we've got batteries".
  • Not expected? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by pclminion (145572)

    "It's a very clever approach," says Philippe Fauchet, an applied physicist at the University of Rochester in New York State. "I did not expect it at all, which is always a nice surprise."

    An applied physicist "didn't expect" that an electric field would move the free electrons out of the way?

    • Re:Not expected? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ngarrang (1023425) on Friday May 04, 2007 @02:17PM (#18992129) Journal

      "It's a very clever approach," says Philippe Fauchet, an applied physicist at the University of Rochester in New York State. "I did not expect it at all, which is always a nice surprise."

      An applied physicist "didn't expect" that an electric field would move the free electrons out of the way?

      Even the best and brightest can sometimes forget the little things. You can get so focused on another aspect.
    • Re:Not expected? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kestasjk (933987) on Friday May 04, 2007 @04:01PM (#18993813) Homepage
      Maybe he didn't expect that the diode would create the electric field, maybe it's hard to put a diode right next to the laser, or maybe he didn't think the free electrons would travel away so easily.

      To me it sounds exactly like how photovoltaic cells work; a light beam gives an electron enough energy to dislodge it, and a diode forces the electron to jump through a few hoops to get back to where it started. At face value it's too obvious to not have been thought of before, so you can bet there's something NewScientist aren't covering well.
    • by weir (1098055)
      I agree the idea is clever. Essentially they are recycling heat generated as a "byproduct". I wish there were a better way to generate electricity directly from heat. Other than the two dissimilar metals method, thermovoltaics instead of photovoltaics. I wonder if they run into feedback issues. Electricity->heat-electricity->heat.
  • Innovation (Score:2, Insightful)

    This just goes to show that even seemingly simple ideas can be powerful.
  • does this mean (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zappepcs (820751) on Friday May 04, 2007 @02:48PM (#18992647) Journal
    that the newest batch of CD players won't be hot enough to reveal the secret disc art on NIN's new CD?
    • by renoX (11677)
      Well, this could maybe reduce the heat generated by the laser diode itself (don't know if this improvement is applicable to this part), but there will still be the heat generated by the laser beam on the CD, which of course is lower but it'll still be there.
  • I can't wait for my laser-beam eyes!
  • All you people who wonder how one could have missed something so obvious, well, it isn't obvious. Firstly, what actually happens inside a solid-state laser is an absolute pain to work out rigorously. The quantum mechanics involved is sufficiently complicated that the preferred method of finding a good lasing material is pretty much trial and error. You are talking about systems where adding a few fractions of a percent of impurities changes the energy levels, and consequentially the physical properties of y

The study of non-linear physics is like the study of non-elephant biology.

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