Shaken Granular Lasers

, , , and . Phys. Rev. Lett. 108 (24): 248002 (June 2012)Editor Suggestion, Synopsis in Physics http://physics.aps.org/synopsis-for/10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.248002.


Granular materials have been studied for decades, driven by industrial and technological applications. These very simple systems, composed of agglomerations of mesoscopic particles, are characterized, in specific regimes, by a large number of metastable states and an extreme sensitivity (e.g., in sound transmission) to the arrangement of grains; they are not substantially affected by thermal phenomena, but can be controlled by mechanical solicitations. Laser emission from shaken granular matter is so far unexplored. Here we provide experimental evidence that laser emission can be affected and controlled by the status of the motion of the granular material; we also find that competitive random lasers can be observed. We hence demonstrate the potentialities of gravity-affected moving disordered materials for optical applications, and open the road to a variety of novel interdisciplinary investigations, involving modern statistical mechanics and disordered photonics.

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