Scientists from St. Andrews University (Scotland) have created an ultra-thin flexible film capable of emitting laser light. The researchers conducted a successful test of contact lenses, demonstrating the real possibility to produce laser beams from his eyes. Scientists reported about the done work in the journal Nature Communications.
Not in a hurry to run out and buy the visor of Cyclops. The laser beam produced by this film is very weak and cannot cause any damage. And the technology, the researchers say, likely has potential use in creating wearable tags security or perhaps even as a sort of wearable barcode.
“We have demonstrated the production process and operation of low-power laser film, safe for organic use, as well as having great flexibility and very light. Its physical properties, combined with the ability to generate a low — power laser beam with different parameters of the output spectrum, allow it to be used for the production of safety labels and used on a variety of surfaces, including banknotes, contact lenses and nails”, – scientists report in a published article.
The film thickness is less than one thousandth of a millimeter. In addition, it is flexible, so it can be easily adapted for use, for example, in polymer banknotes or in soft plastic products, for example, in the same flexible contact lenses.
As reported by IEEE Spectrum portal, the laser beam creates a film using nanoscale gratings imprinted into its thin polymer membranes. According to scientists, the resulting membranes can then be integrated into other surfaces.
When illuminated by another laser, the film begins to emit its own laser beam with a wavelength of 420-700 nanometers, which is determined by the structure and material of the grid. However, the researchers note that, if desired, the parameters can be adjusted to suit your needs, and then the film will emit its wavelength and even emit a laser as an encoded signal in the form of zeros and ones, as in the barcode.
The diagram shows how the laser membrane can be used as a protection against counterfeiting in polymer banknotes
The laser created by the film is very low — power-about one nanowatt. It is one billionth of a watt, which is very little even in order to create a barely visible light. But this power is enough for the laser beam to detect the scanner, which opens up the prospect for the film to be used as a basis for safety tags, scientists say.
“In this case, it will be very difficult to fake a laser beam with the desired wavelength,” commented senior researcher, physicist Malta Gater from St. Andrews University.
To check the performance of the film, a team of scientists integrated the membrane into contact lenses, and then used it on the existing extracted cow eye (image above). They are often used in similar tests, because they have similar structural features with the human eye. In addition, the lack of test material in this case, as a rule, does not happen.
The work of the film is also checked by placing it on the nail one of the researchers. In both cases, the membrane produced a laser beam, and, more importantly, its power was constantly in a safe zone, which indicates the possibility of its repeated safe use in the same contact lenses.
According to the developers, the transition from the prototype to mass production of such films can be adjusted without problems.
“Using the newly developed technology of roll printing, as well as the technology of organic printing ink, it is possible to establish a mass production of laser film at a low cost of the final product,” the scientists noted.