Free electron lasers (FELs) represent a radical alternative to conventional lasers as they do not have the restrictions of conventional lasers based on operating wavelengths, and they are potentially the most flexible, high power and efficient generators of tuneable coherent radiation from the ultra-violet to the infra-red spectrum.
In a FEL radiation is emitted from an electron beam travelling in a vacuum and passing through a magnetic field, and the emission wavelength is only determined by the period of the magnetic field and electron beam energy.
The aim of the GOSFEL project is to demonstrate an entirely new type of compact laser source by exploiting the unique properties of graphene to realise a solid-state free electron laser.
The consortium includes renowned centres of excellence in graphene science and technology (the University of Exeter), solid-state theory (the University of Augsburg) and quantum electronics, particularly semi conductor laser physics and engineering, including commercial exploitation (ETH Zurich). In addition, Norsk Electro Optikk AS, a leading supplier of spectroscopy instruments, will provide an industrial view point and will help guide the research.
Current free electron lasers are large and expensive facilities. The recent isolation of graphene, in which electrons travel ballistically and at extremely high saturation velocities, has provided an exciting potential route for creating a compact solid state free electron laser.
Photo credit: “www.colourbox.com”. Material used in the preparation of this article has been drawn from GOSFEL.