The invention of the Internet and mobile devices has caused tremendous changes in human lives over the past two decades. Information technology has broken through limitations of geospatial space, enabling extremely high-speed data transmission and new types of data services. In recent years, demands for data processing have shown an increasing trend. Furthermore, data generated from internet-related applications such as cloud services and self-driving technology are likely to grow exponentially over the coming years. Currently, data transmission inside integrated circuits mainly relies on metal wires. However, the substantial resistive-capacitive delay and energy loss that are caused by metal wires limit data transmission speeds. Optical interconnection has been regarded as a major solution to efficiently reduce energy consumption and increase data transmission speeds. The size of conventional semiconductor laser devices, which are the key component in optical interconnection, cannot be smaller than the wavelength of light, which is a fundamental physical obstacle to lasers integrating with current electronic integrated circuits in reasonable volumes. To realize optical interconnection, the volume of the laser device must match the existing electronic components. Recently, the use of diffraction-unlimited plasmonic lasers has been successfully demonstrated, and these have great potential in different applications. In this paper, we discuss the recent progress toward surface plasmon polariton lasers and provide practical insights into the challenges in realizing these novel devices.
- Surface plasmon polariton