Nature 424, 839-846 (14 August 2003) | doi:10.1038/nature01939

Optical microcavities

Kerry J. Vahala1


Optical microcavities confine light to small volumes by resonant recirculation. Devices based on optical microcavities are already indispensable for a wide range of applications and studies. For example, microcavities made of active III–V semiconductor materials control laser emission spectra to enable long-distance transmission of data over optical fibres; they also ensure narrow spot-size laser read/write beams in CD and DVD players. In quantum optical devices, microcavities can coax atoms or quantum dots to emit spontaneous photons in a desired direction or can provide an environment where dissipative mechanisms such as spontaneous emission are overcome so that quantum entanglement of radiation and matter is possible. Applications of these remarkable devices are as diverse as their geometrical and resonant properties.

  1. California Institute of Technology, Mail Stop 128-95, Pasadena, California 91125, USA