Wavelength-tunable and shape-reconfigurable photonic capsule resonators containing cholesteric liquid crystals

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Science Advances  22 Jun 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 6, eaat8276
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat8276


Cholesteric liquid crystals (CLCs) have a photonic bandgap due to the periodic change of refractive index along their helical axes. The CLCs containing optical gain have served as band-edge lasing resonators. In particular, CLCs in a granular format provide omnidirectional lasing, which are promising as a point light source. However, there is no platform that simultaneously achieves high stability in air and wavelength tunability. We encapsulate CLCs with double shells to design a capsule-type laser resonator. The fluidic CLCs are fully enclosed by an aqueous inner shell that promotes the planar alignment of LC molecules along the interface. The outer shell made of silicone elastomer protects the CLC core and the inner shell from the surroundings. Therefore, the helical axes of the CLCs are radially oriented within the capsules, which provide a stable omnidirectional lasing in the air. At the same time, the fluidic CLCs enable the fine-tuning of lasing wavelength with temperature. The capsules retain their double-shell structure during the dynamic deformation. Therefore, the CLCs in the core maintain the planar alignment along the deformed interface, and a lasing direction can be varied from omnidirectional to bi- or multidirectional, depending on the shape of deformed capsules.

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