Researchers at Arizona State University and Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands have been collaborating on a project to make lasers
significantly smaller than the ones that are currently available, by finding a way around the traditionally accepted diffraction limit -- the idea that the size of lasers in any one dimension (say, thickness) is limited to half of the wavelength involved. One way around the size limitation, they've found, is to use a combination of semiconductors and metals like gold and silver, which causes electron excitement which helps confine the light in a laser to smaller spaces than that of the supposed limit. Using this method, the team has created nanoscale
lasers that are one quarter of the wavelength or smaller -- as opposed to the previously accepted size limitation of one half of the wavelength. As far as consumer applications go, the smaller the laser, the easier it will be to integrate them into small electronics components, leading to things like faster products and more reliable internet access. Sounds great, right? Well, chill out: they're still working on it, with no word on when we'll see any street application of the nano nanolasers.