Attempts to scale down current laser designs have been made before, but the devices were not efficient enough for real applications. Now a group of researchers from Darmstadt University of Technology, the University of Frankfurt and IMM in Mainz have found a zeolite that can trap the dye molecules with the correct alignment and orientation for lasing. The team trap Pyridine 2 molecules, which have a width of 0.6 nm, inside the zeolite known as AIPO4-5, which has cavities 0.73 nm wide.

The researchers used light from a standard Nd:YAG laser to excite the dye. When the energy went above a certain threshold, they detected a series of strong fluorescent energy spikes, indicating that the zeolite was acting as a laser. The zeolite dye laser is three times smaller than the smallest dye lasers constructed to date.