Research ArticlePHOTONICS

Organic printed photonics: From microring lasers to integrated circuits

Science Advances  18 Sep 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 8, e1500257
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500257

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Abstract

A photonic integrated circuit (PIC) is the optical analogy of an electronic loop in which photons are signal carriers with high transport speed and parallel processing capability. Besides the most frequently demonstrated silicon-based circuits, PICs require a variety of materials for light generation, processing, modulation, and detection. With their diversity and flexibility, organic molecular materials provide an alternative platform for photonics; however, the versatile fabrication of organic integrated circuits with the desired photonic performance remains a big challenge. The rapid development of flexible electronics has shown that a solution printing technique has considerable potential for the large-scale fabrication and integration of microsized/nanosized devices. We propose the idea of soft photonics and demonstrate the function-directed fabrication of high-quality organic photonic devices and circuits. We prepared size-tunable and reproducible polymer microring resonators on a wafer-scale transparent and flexible chip using a solution printing technique. The printed optical resonator showed a quality (Q) factor higher than 4 × 105, which is comparable to that of silicon-based resonators. The high material compatibility of this printed photonic chip enabled us to realize low-threshold microlasers by doping organic functional molecules into a typical photonic device. On an identical chip, this construction strategy allowed us to design a complex assembly of one-dimensional waveguide and resonator components for light signal filtering and optical storage toward the large-scale on-chip integration of microscopic photonic units. Thus, we have developed a scheme for soft photonic integration that may motivate further studies on organic photonic materials and devices.

Keywords
  • Organic nanomaterial
  • Photonic material
  • Organic laser
  • Organic nanophotonics
  • Flexible device
  • Molecular photonics
  • Molecular Electronics
  • Printed Photonics
  • soft material

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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