Lasers could produce much sought-after band gaps in graphene: In a new study, Foa Torres and his coauthors have addressed this problem. By analyzing the way that a laser field interacts with electrons in graphene, the researchers have predicted that shining a mid-infrared laser on graphene can produce band gaps in its electronic structure. Further, the researchers predict that the band gaps could be tuned by controlling the laser polarization. As Foa Torres explained, the key to how polarized light "opens up" band gaps in graphene involves electrons interacting with the laser field.
“Imagine an electron moving, say from left to right, into a region illuminated by the laser field,” he said. “Then what happens is that the electron interacts with the radiation by absorbing or emitting photons. This interaction leads to the electron being reflected or backscattered, as it would have hit a wall: the band gap. In contrast with usual band gaps, this one is dynamically produced by the laser.”