Ultralow-threshold, continuous-wave upconverting lasing from subwavelength plasmons

Angel Fernandez-Bravo, Danqing Wang, Edward S. Barnard, Ayelet Teitelboim, Cheryl Tajon, Jun Guan, George C. Schatz, Bruce E. Cohen, Emory M. Chan, P. James Schuck*, Teri W. Odom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Miniaturized lasers are an emerging platform for generating coherent light for quantum photonics, in vivo cellular imaging, solid-state lighting and fast three-dimensional sensing in smartphones1–3. Continuous-wave lasing at room temperature is critical for integration with opto-electronic devices and optimal modulation of optical interactions4,5. Plasmonic nanocavities integrated with gain can generate coherent light at subwavelength scales6–9, beyond the diffraction limit that constrains mode volumes in dielectric cavities such as semiconducting nanowires10,11. However, insufficient gain with respect to losses and thermal instabilities in nanocavities has limited all nanoscale lasers to pulsed pump sources and/or low-temperature operation6–9,12–15. Here, we show continuous-wave upconverting lasing at room temperature with record-low thresholds and high photostability from subwavelength plasmons. We achieve selective, single-mode lasing from Yb3+/Er3+-co-doped upconverting nanoparticles conformally coated on Ag nanopillar arrays that support a single, sharp lattice plasmon cavity mode and greater than wavelength λ/20 field confinement in the vertical dimension. The intense electromagnetic near-fields localized in the vicinity of the nanopillars result in a threshold of 70 W cm−2, orders of magnitude lower than other small lasers. Our plasmon-nanoarray upconverting lasers provide directional, ultra-stable output at visible frequencies under near-infrared pumping, even after six hours of constant operation, which offers prospects in previously unrealizable applications of coherent nanoscale light.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1172-1176
Number of pages5
JournalNature materials
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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