Abstract

Light-emitting polymers (LEPs) and related organic materials are attractive for many applications including optoelectronics and photonics [1]. They exhibit high photoluminescence quantum yields and can be tailored to emit at wavelengths across the whole visible spectrum. Furthermore, thanks to their ‘soft matter’ nature they offer great processing flexibility and should enable a wide range of novel devices and applications. Consequently, research into photonic components based on LEPs is being keenly pursued. However, organic materials typically suffer from photo-oxidation which can result in an alteration of the conjugation length at the molecular scale and ultimately destroys their light-emitting properties. Encapsulation of the LEPs while maintaining their processability and attractive physical properties is therefore essential to fully leverage this technology. The idea of composites, where a light-emitting material is blended in a protective host matrix, has often been the chosen strategy and many distributed feedback (DFB) lasers based on this approach were reported [2]. However, their laser oscillation threshold often exceeds the thresholds of their “neat” counterparts by more than 10 to 100-fold. In this work, we report a composite based on the incorporation of LEP into a novel polymer matrix which shows low amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) threshold. A mechanically-flexible, surface-emitting DFB laser with a threshold as low as those typically shown by organic DFB lasers made from neat materials is also demonstrated.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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