(Ann Arbor) development that could replace the semi-conductor diode of 1950s, the circuit technology standard since its invention, scientists at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor have invented a “laser” that uses electric charge instead of light. It could lead to smaller, lighter, more durable, and vastly more energy efficient, wireless circuit components.

Not technically a laser, which is an electricity intensive means to create coherent light used for a variety of applications such as in fiber optics, in ophthalmology, and in vintage gizmos like the Compact Disc player, the new technology uses 250x less electricity than conventional lasers by releasing coherent light through an entirely new means. Conventional lasers excite a lowest energy state material to a higher energy state so that when the excited material loses energy, the system releases coherent light, just like a laser. In contrast, this new wireless electricity transfer means uses the scattering between photons and electron-holes (the absence of electrons, or “excitons” that behave as if positively charged) to emit a coherent of light beam when the pair (called “Polaritons”) decay under the right conditions: “Too much light or electrical current will cause the excitons to break down too early.” (University Of Michigan press release)

For the past 50 years, we have relied on lasers to make coherent light and now we have something else based on a totally new principle,” says researcher Pallab Bhattacharya.

The electricity beam that stimulates the transmission of coherent light eliminates the necessity of wires on computer components. In other words, the breakthrough amounts to wireless power transmission on an extremely small scale, notably at room temperature instead of below freezing. It could revolutionize semi-conductor diode technology by making computer components completely wireless.

For more detail the UMich release