Explore the groundbreaking work of Hong Tang, a renowned professor of electrical engineering, physics, and applied physics at Yale University. With expertise in quantum and photonic technologies, Dr. Tang focuses on nanoscale device physics and integrated photonic circuits. Delve into his journey from China to the United States and learn how he’s pushing the boundaries of laser innovation. Discover how his latest achievement, the world’s first chip-scale titanium-doped sapphire laser, is poised to reshape fields such as quantum computing, atomic clocks, and spectroscopy sensors. Explore the impact of his research on laser miniaturisation and photonic circuit integration, driving advancements in a wide range of applications.
Which wall does your research break?
Our team has developed the world’s first chip-scale titanium-doped sapphire laser. This innovation has the potential to unlock a plethora of new applications in fields such as atomic clocks, quantum computing, and spectroscopy sensors. The Ti:Sapphire laser is renowned for its broadband emission and is considered an indispensable tool in many academic and industrial laboratories. However, its inherent complexity, high cost, and large physical footprint have hindered its widespread use beyond research labs. In a significant breakthrough, we recently demonstrated an on-chip Ti:Sapphire laser with an unprecedentedly low threshold, making it feasible to be powered by semiconductor diodes. This finding paves the way for more accessible and cost-effective solid-state lasers.
What inspired or motivated you to work on your current research or project?
Like many research labs, we currently rely on an expensive Ti:Sapphire laser, occupying an entire optical table and demanding a substantial investment of a quarter million dollars. Undeniably, this powerful broadband laser serves us well. However, it comes with its fair share of frustrations, as its intricate components require constant maintenance, leading to a love-hate relationship with this equipment. In an era where miniaturization is a dominant technological trend, we began to question the status quo. With semiconductor lasers being readily available as commodities and our expertise in developing photonic circuits to support lasers, the question emerged: “Why not develop a Ti:Sapphire laser on a chip?” This compelling idea has driven our research efforts over the past four years, and led to our successful demonstration of the first photonic circuit integrated Ti:Sapphire laser.
In what ways does society benefit from your research?
Our innovation promises to democratize access to powerful Ti:Sapphire lasers, unlocking a world of possibilities for fundamental discoveries and a multitude of applications in the realms of physics, biology, and chemistry. By making this advanced laser technology widely available, we envision a future where researchers and scientists from diverse disciplines can harness its potential to push the boundaries of knowledge and drive advancements that benefit society as a whole.
Looking ahead, what are your hopes or aspirations for the future based on your research or project?
We aim to broaden our platform by incorporating other high-power laser systems, while simultaneously extending the wavelength coverage to encompass all spectral bands.