Can you think of living without the World Wide Web, e-mail, DVDs, CD-ROMs, the bar code scanner, mobile phones or high-efficiency solar cells? I cannot. These systems are part of the backbone of our modern civilization. And they have something in common: they are all devices based on the double heterostructure. Zhores Alferov (and independently Herbert Krömer) proposed its concept and its usefulness for semiconductor lasers in 1962, two years after the first demonstration of the first (solid-state) laser. InP-based double heterostructure lasers are today, and have been for more than 20 years, the enabling light sources for optical fiber communication, sending their photonic bits around the globe at enormous and ever-increasing rates. In 2009, 61% of the $500+ billion world market for laser systems was based on semiconductor lasers. Obviously a straightforward success story? Not really at the beginning, rather the kind of survival story of somebody who was producing an enormous number of ideas and trying to make them reality; his production of ideas has not yet stopped after 60 years of professional life - Dieter Bimberg (from "A tribute to Zhores Ivanovitch Alferov, a pioneer who changed our way of daily life").

Speed read

Selected papers from the special issue

High-speed single-photon source based on self-organized quantum dots

Lasing in subwavelength semiconductor nanopatches

Emerging applications for vertical cavity surface emitting lasers

Comparison between two types of photonic-crystal cavities for single-photon emitters

Ring-cavity surface-emitting lasers as a building block for tunable and coherent quantum cascade laser arrays

>> View all of the papers in this special issue