JILA team demonstrates 'a new way of lasing': A 'superradiant' laser
Physicists at JILA have demonstrated a novel 'superradiant' laser design, which has the potential to be 100 to 1,000 times more stable than the best conventional visible lasers. This type of laser could boost the performance of the most advanced atomic clocks and related technologies, such as communications and navigation systems as well as space-based astronomical instruments. The JILA laser prototype relies on a million rubidium atoms doing a sort of synchronized line dance to produce a dim beam of deep red laser light. JILA is a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder (CU). JILA/NIST physicist James Thompson says the new laser is based on a powerful engineering technique called "phased arrays" in which electromagnetic waves from a large group of identical antennas are carefully synchronized to build a combined wave with special useful features that are not possible otherwise.