Landmark Discovery Could Improve Army Lasers, Precision Sensors

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By U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs,
By U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs,

September 29, 2020 | Originally published by U.S. Army on September 28, 2020

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — An Army-funded landmark discovery at New York University could change the way researchers develop and use optical technologies, such as lasers, sensors, and photonic circuits, over the next decade.

After years of research, the team of scientists achieved what many thought was perhaps impossible–they developed a method to create colloids that crystallize into the diamond lattice. This photonic technique, published in Nature, could lead to cheap, reliable, and scalable fabrication of 3-D photonic crystals for optical circuits and light filters.

These 3-D photonic crystals—self-assembled formations of miniscule materials in a stable assembly—could open the door to lightweight, high-efficiency lasers, precise light control with 3-D photonic circuits, and new materials for managing thermal or radio signatures.

High-efficiency lasers are key to Army modernization priorities, including air and missile defense, as they play a key role in both precision sensing and directed energy systems. Likewise, efficient lasers and integrated photonic circuits will play a key role in next-generation technologies like light-based quantum computing, atomic clocks, and gyroscopes for precision navigation and timing and optical systems with improved size, weight, and power.