back to article Boffins build World's tiniest 'laser'

Scientists in the US have developed what they claim is the world's smallest laser. The device, which is just 44nm in diameter, could pave the way for the development of chips that operate using light rather than electrons. The device isn't technically a laser, but it works using the same principle. It uses a property of metals …


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  1. Steven Raith

    Not Plasmids then?

    Damn, I was hoping that I could have Incinerate for when my lighter runs out and I fancy a cig.

    IGMC - it's the one with the baccy and Rizlas in the pocket...

    Steven R

  2. Hollerith 1

    Who needs religion?

    What we are able to understand and use, at these incredibly small sizes, quantum forces that will lead to better technology, faster communication, more number-crunching, is mind-boggling, and we are only at the beginning of our voage of discovery. When science is giving us this amazing and dazzling knowledge from the very small tot he very great, how can anyone find wonder in stories invented four millennia ago to explain weather, luck and power?

  3. Lionel Baden
    Thumb Up

    can we have these waterproof

    i need them for my mini sharks !!!

  4. paul brain

    ms windows version x will still run slow

    MS will find a way to chug up those extra clock cycles and Windows will still run like a dog , mind you , by then ( Hopefully ) we'll all be running some GPL'd parallel processing OS.

  5. DZ-Jay

    Re: Who needs religion

    @Hollerith 1:

    Ok, I'll bite. Without entering into an entire metaphysical and philosophical discussion, I'll just say that religion has tried to do more than just attempt to "explain weather, luck and power". It has tried to find meaning for existence and coherence with our surroundings. Sure, science explains a lot of how the world works, and I'll guess that we have much, much more to discover as time goes by; but it still cannot answer some basic inquiries that has baffled mankind for millenia, mainly, what is all of it for, and why are we here, and so briefly.

    This questions lie at the heart of what it is to be human, and may never be answered by science. Religion may not answer them either, but it at least attempts to look for an explanation beyond the mere physical qualities of the universe, and it certainly gives comfort, if not pure understanding, to entire societies regarding their place within this universe.

    I'm not a religious person, but at least I can appreciate that there is more to being human than the mere curiousity of understanding the mechanical and physical properites of our universe, though that may be a big part of it. That there is a deep drive to comprehend our position within this universe, and that introspection and reflection can be as meaningful and gratifying as physical observation and rational speculation. That, to this end some seek religion, is just a personal choice they make. To each their own, I say.


  6. Anonymous Coward

    @Hollerith 1

    On the contrary; Science itself, or at least bastardised sections of it, is/are becoming a religion. Look at "Climate Science"- if someone was to somehow provide and publish clear and absolutely irrefutable proof that it's all a natural cycle and we'll be fine in 20 years (probably isn't true, no idea what proof) then they'd be shouted down as a heretic. Actually you'd probably get a bit of a bashing for suggesting simply that we'll be okay in 20 years- and that IS supported by most of the science!

    With other bits of Science there's less momentum, but many scientists hold an almost dogmatic belief in certain bits of what are almost unprovable theories.

    Then you've got the Politicos telling us that we've got to do things because it is commanded by Science Itself! I guess the celebs don't help- anyone remember Dr Fox's infamous "There's no actual evidence behind it, but it IS Scientific fact"

    Give it a couple of years and they'll be building shrines to the LHC...

  7. Anonymous Coward


    The U.S. is waging war on The Borrowers now?

  8. Alan 6

    Never mind sharks

    You could mount these babies on frikkin tadpoles...

  9. Robert Grant Silver badge


    Ans: apparently you do. It's not mentioned in the article, but you were helpless to resist the temptation to stick your straw man-fueled oar in.

  10. Sean Nevin

    Re: So...

    I'd say given the size of the weapons in question, they're looking at recruitment. Given their size a mousetrap would do the job. Perhaps baited with a small knicknack...

  11. TheWhiteIdea

    Can you spell....


  12. ElNumbre


    Surely they should be investigating bigger, more powerful lasers. On the moon. That shall be renamed the "Death Star".

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ DZ-Jay

    "I'll just say that religion has tried to do more than just attempt to "explain weather, luck and power". It has tried to find meaning for existence and coherence with our surroundings"

    But what makes it more authoritative than the man who believes the moon is made of cheese?

    It hasn't "tried to find meaning", it just makes stuff up.

  14. Benjamin Kunz


    Sounds like another way to invent a Star Trek and Harry Potter style cloak =)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    44nm eh, I can just see Einstein turning in his grave now, 44nm, I could drive a friggin train or two through that.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Anonymous Coward


    "What's it all for"

    That supposes the existance of a superbeing to have had a purpose for it. An aetheist would have to believe that there IS no overriding purpose for the universe.

    A theist would also have to accept that it's possible there's no purpose; we could just be an accident or a side-effect. They could also have to accept that we'll never know- any superbeing so... well, super that they could create a universe would surely have inconceivably complex purposes for what they set out to do?

    A Scientist would say that there's no solid evidence for or against a superbeing creator. But as no evidence *for* has been found and the chance of us being able to understand its motives if there is a superbeing are so small- as well as the extra complications that would arise (Why is the superbeing there?) they'd probably stick to working on the presumption that there isn't one- a presumption that would be changed as soon as there's evidence for a superbeing's existance.

    "Why are we here"

    Isn't that pretty much the same as the first question? I guess we're here because of infinitely complex socioeconomic and biological factors stretching back for millennia. Because if you weren't here now then the laws the universe runs on would have been different. We're here because there's nowhere else that we here now could be.

    "and so briefly"

    Because we don't look when we cross the road. Because we're mortal- we run out of time. The idea that it's briefly is only one of scale- on the timeframe of a fruitfly or a bacterium- even ones that live within us and without which we wouldn't work properly- we live for vast periods of time. Compared to an atom of Francium you exist for an almost infinite length of time.

    If you're meaning so briefly in terms of geological time, think of the next stage up- planetary development phases. Then the next- the formation and destruction of whole Solar systems.

    Religion is one big ego trip. It supposes that what we see is the "right" way of seeing things, that our concept of time is the right concept of time and that we've got a purpose. We're tiny on a universal scale- or huge on even the scale of what we can mass produce. I'm something like 45,000,000 times taller than the transistors in the machine I'm using to type this, and I'm one 4.7x10^-20 of the galaxy- of which there are billions.

    Time-wise, in a single 75-year human life 1,793,045 francium atoms could have been created and disappeared. Earth will have travelled 43,803,000,000 miles.

    Any scale in between those- and even outside those- is equally valid.

    That we're here at all is the product of a billion billion billion variables- all of which had to be absolutely right. All ~10Octillion atoms in your body had to be arranged exactly where they are, the physical rules behind it all had to be correct. Your surrounding atmosphere had to be right to not make you burst. The whole world had to be the right size just to support that atmosphere- and there had to be billions of years of history to get these uncountable atoms in just the right configuration for you to be typing.

    That we arose from such a complex, vastly chaotic system is surely a greater puzzle than knowing the mind of a superbeing who would have such a complex system beyond them? And surely to simplify it to "God did it" is just an insult to the beautiful structures that have risen almost randomly from the chaotic mass of atoms as well as to the human mind- a mind that has created artificial structures and systems that allow us to comprehend such infinite variables?

    Sorry, I'm probably rambling or ranting. But the universe is big enough and beautiful enough to be amazing and miraculous without a God.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tiny laser

    uh, mini-me, stop humping the spaser!

  19. Paul Renault

    Boffins builds?

    So, is "Boffins" Mikhail Noginov's nickname? Or his company's name?

    Or, does Tony Smith just like getting mail from grammar Nazis?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mission Failed

    This was a test to see if an article could be written on this site without causing an argument.

  21. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    AC @ 17/8/2009 14:29

    "if someone was to somehow provide and publish clear and absolutely irrefutable proof that it's all a natural cycle and we'll be fine in 20 years (probably isn't true, no idea what proof) then they'd be shouted down as a heretic."

    You are quite wrong. If such an idea was supported by the evidence it would be a candidate for greatest scientific work of the century.

  22. Fozzy 1

    @Alan 6 And I shall calll them.....

    Ah Screw it. I'm still hung over from the weekend to think of anything clever

  23. Emilio Desalvo

    Good boffin! Cookie!

    Are they taking their Plasmons with milk?

  24. Il Midga di Macaroni
    Thumb Down

    If you want to debate religion, go to Facebook

    I can't believe the science vs religion thing is still fondly believed by so many people!

    Define religion as a set of beliefs about supernatural beings (the belief might be that there are none) and it's self evident that religion and sceince are logically incapable of stepping on each other's toes! I mean, when was the last time a ghost stayed put long enough to have its temperature taken, for instance?

    Now back to lasers? Please?

  25. Lionel Baden

    @AC 21:54 GMT

    Errr no it wasnt !!!

    common .....

  26. Secretgeek
    Thumb Up


    I tried explaining something like that to a couple of Jehovah's witnesses once (i was bored), I threw in the 'Religion is something we need to grow out of.' as well. They left confused. I know they were confused as they didn't leave a copy of the Watchtower.

    As an aside, how many of these spasers can you fit on the head of a sea monkey?

  27. Brian Hall

    Who dat?

    Enquiring minds want to know. Who or what are Phsyicists? And why should we care what they think?

  28. Justabloke 1


    The moon IS made of cheese! despite the the USA and NASA trying to convince us with their phoney moon landing film.... pah!

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