Bio-inspired natural sunlight-pumped lasers

Francesco Mattiotti, William M. Brown, Nicola Piovella, Stefano Olivares, Erik M. Gauger, G. Luca Celardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Even though sunlight is by far the most abundant renewable energy source available to humanity, its dilute and variable nature has kept efficient ways to collect, store, and distribute this energy tantalisingly out of reach. Turning the incoherent energy supply provided by the Sun into a coherent laser beam would overcome several of the practical limitations inherent in using sunlight as a source of clean energy: laser beams travel nearly losslessly over large distances, and they are effective at driving chemical reactions which convert sunlight into chemical energy. Here we propose a bio-inspired blueprint for a novel type of laser with the aim of upgrading unconcentrated natural sunlight into a coherent laser beam. Our proposed design constitutes a novel and different path towards sunlight-pumped lasers. In order to achieve lasing with the extremely dilute power provided by natural sunlight, we here propose a laser medium comprised of molecular aggregates inspired by the architecture of natural photosynthetic complexes. Such complexes exhibit a very large internal efficiency in harvesting photons from a power source as dilute as natural sunlight. Specifically, we consider a hybrid structure, where photosynthetic complexes in purple bacteria (Rhodobacter Sphaeroides) surround a suitably engineered molecular dimer composed of two strongly coupled chromophores. We show that if pumped by the surrounding photosynthetic complex, which efficiently collects and concentrates solar energy, the core dimer structure can reach population inversion, and reach the lasing threshold under natural sunlight. The design principles proposed here will also pave the way for developing other bio-inspired quantum devices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103015
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Volume23
Issue number10
Early online date20 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • bio-inspired photonic devices
  • novel lasing approaches
  • organic nanophotonics
  • photosynthetic quantum technologies
  • sunlight-pumped lasing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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