Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Taming of random lasers


Random lasers1 are fascinating devices due to the absence of a conventional cavity structure and their counterintuitive lasing mechanism. However, they are also notorious for their unpredictability. Despite their many unusual properties2,3,4,5, random lasers are unlikely to achieve the ubiquitous acceptance of conventional lasers unless the underlying lasing mechanisms that govern their operation are thoroughly understood and their exotic properties are appropriately regulated. Recent demonstrations of localized random lasers are considered a breakthrough in the field because structural disorders were engineered in a top-down manner6,7,8. Nevertheless, the origin of the lasing phenomenon and the controllability of these devices have not been adequately addressed. Lately, we have experimentally proven that photonic band-tail eigenstates—manifestations of photonic Anderson localizations—are responsible for random lasing in a compositionally disordered photonic crystal platform9. Herein, we demonstrate that the process of governing the band-tail states offers a unique opportunity to finally regulate random lasers.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Schematics of the random laser structure.
Fig. 2: Control of the number and locations of PBT modes.
Fig. 3: Controlling single-mode random laser specifications.

Data availability

The data that support the plots in this paper and the other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


  1. Wiersma, D. S. The physics and applications of random lasers. Nat. Phys. 4, 359–367 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ghofraniha, N. et al. Experimental evidence of replica symmetry breaking in random lasers. Nat. Commun. 6, 6058 (2015).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Redding, B., Choma, M. A. & Cao, H. Speckle-free laser imaging using random laser illumination. Nat. Photon. 6, 355–359 (2012).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Türeci, H. E., Ge, L., Rotter, S. & Stone, A. D. Strong interactions in multimode random lasers. Science 320, 643–646 (2008).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Van der Molen, K. L., Tjerkstra, R. W., Mosk, A. P. & Lagendijk, A. Spatial extent of random laser modes. Phys. Rev. Lett. 98, 143901 (2007).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Liu, J. et al. Random nanolasing in the Anderson localized regime. Nat. Nanotechnol. 9, 285–289 (2014).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Noh, H. et al. Control of lasing in biomimetic structures with short-range order. Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 183901 (2011).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Yang, J. K. et al. Lasing modes in polycrystalline and amorphous photonic structures. Phys. Rev. A 84, 033820 (2011).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. Lee, M. et al. Anderson localizations and photonic band-tail states observed in compositionally disordered platform. Sci. Adv. 4, e1602796 (2018).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Lawandy, N. M., Balachandran, R. M., Gomes, A. S. L. & Sauvain, E. Laser action in strongly scattering media. Nature 368, 436–438 (1994).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Cao, H. et al. Random laser action in semiconductor powder. Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 2278 (1999).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. Frolov, S. V., Vardeny, Z. V., Yoshino, K., Zakhidov, A. & Baughman, R. H. Stimulated emission in high-gain organic media. Phys. Rev. B 59, R5284 (1999).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  13. Anderson, P. W. The question of classical localization: a theory of white paint? Phil. Mag. B 52, 505–509 (1985).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  14. Schwartz, T., Bartal, G., Fishman, S. & Segev, M. Transport and Anderson localization in disordered two-dimensional photonic lattices. Nature 446, 52–55 (2007).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  15. Zeng, Y. et al. Designer multimode localized random lasing in amorphous lattices at terahertz frequencies. ACS Photon. 3, 2453–2460 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Stano, P. & Jacquod, P. Suppression of interactions in multimode random lasers in the Anderson localized regime. Nat. Photon. 7, 66–71 (2013).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  17. Vynck, K., Burresi, M., Riboli, F. & Wiersma, D. S. Photon management in two-dimensional disordered media. Nat. Mater. 11, 1017–1022 (2012).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  18. Sebbah, P. & Vanneste, C. Random laser in the localized regime. Phys. Rev. B 66, 144202 (2002).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  19. Leonetti, M., Conti, C. & Lopez, C. The mode-locking transition of random lasers. Nat. Photon. 5, 615–617 (2011).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  20. Gottardo, S., Cavalieri, S., Yaroshchuk, O. & Wiersma, D. S. Quasi-two-dimensional diffusive random laser action. Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 263901 (2004).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  21. Wiersma, D. S. & Cavalieri, S. Temperature-controlled random laser action in liquid crystal infiltrated systems. Phys. Rev. E 66, 056612 (2002).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  22. Van Mieghem, P. Theory of band tails in heavily doped semiconductors. Rev. Mod. Phys. 64, 755–793 (1992).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  23. John, S. Localization of light. Phys. Today 44, 32–40 (1991).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  24. Kim, S. et al. Simultaneous observation of extended and localized modes in compositional disordered photonic crystals. Phys. Rev. A 88, 023804 (2013).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  25. Kim, S., Yoon, S., Seok, H., Lee, J. & Jeon, H. Band-edge lasers based on randomly mixed photonic crystals. Opt. Express 18, 7685–7692 (2010).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  26. Conti, C. & Fratalocchi, A. Dynamic light diffusion, three-dimensional Anderson localization and lasing in inverted opals. Nat. Phys. 4, 794–798 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Seassal, C. et al. InP bonded membrane photonics components and circuits: toward 2.5 dimensional micro-nano-photonics. IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 11, 395–407 (2005).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  28. Park, Y., Kim, S., Moon, C., Jeon, H. & Kim, H. J. Butt-end fiber coupling to a surface-emitting Γ-point photonic crystal bandedge laser. Appl. Phys. Lett. 90, 171115 (2007).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  29. Louvion, N. et al. Local observation and spectroscopy of optical modes in an active photonic-crystal microcavity. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 113907 (2005).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by Samsung Research Funding and Incubation Center of Samsung Electronics under project no. SRFC-MA1801-02. The collaboration between Seoul National University and Institut des Nanotechnologies de Lyon/Ecole Centrale de Lyon was pursued in the framework of the French–Korean Laboratoire International Associé ‘Center for Photonics and Nanostructures’.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



M.L. conducted the majority of the experimental work, including the design, fabrication, measurements and simulations. S.C. and C.S. provided the bonded InAsP MQW wafers and were involved in the NSOM measurements. H.J. conceived and directed the research. All authors contributed to the scientific discussions and the preparation of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Heonsu Jeon.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

This file contains more information about the work and Supplementary Figs. 1–6.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lee, M., Callard, S., Seassal, C. et al. Taming of random lasers. Nat. Photonics 13, 445–448 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing