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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 18, Iss. 6 — Mar. 15, 2010
  • pp: 5890–5895
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Intermediate high index layer for laser mode tuning in organic semiconductor lasers

M. Stroisch, T. Woggon, C. Teiwes-Morin, S. Klinkhammer, K. Forberich, A. Gombert, M. Gerken, and U. Lemmer  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 18, Issue 6, pp. 5890-5895 (2010)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.18.005890


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Abstract

We modified the optical properties of organic semiconductor distributed feedback lasers by introducing a high refractive index layer consisting of tantalum pentoxide between the substrate and the active material layer. A thin film of tris-(8-hydroxyquinoline) aluminium doped with the laser dye 4-dicyanomethylene-2-methyl-6-(p-dimethylamino-styryl)-4H-pyran was used as the active layer. By varying the intermediate layer thickness we could change the effective refractive index of the guided laser mode and thus the laser wavelength. With this technique we were able to tune the laser emission range between 613 nm and 667 nm. For high index layer thicknesses higher than 40 nm the laser operated on the TE1-mode rather than the fundamental TE0-mode.

© 2010 OSA

1. Introduction

Organic semiconductor lasers are a promising approach for compact tunable laser sources for the visible spectral range. Due to their large spectral gain, the possibility of large area deposition and the applicability of diode lasers or LEDs as pump sources [1

1. C. Karnutsch, M. Stroisch, M. Punke, U. Lemmer, J. Wang, and T. Weimann, “Laser diode-pumped organic semiconductor lasers utilizing two-dimensional photonic crystal resonators,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 19(10), 741–743 (2007). [CrossRef]

3

3. Y. Yang, G. A. Turnbull, and I. D. W. Samuel, “Hybrid optoelectronics: A polymer laser pumped by a nitride light-emitting diode,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 92(16), 163306 (2008). [CrossRef]

] they offer many advantages compared to their inorganic counterparts. A particular interesting aspect of organic semiconductor lasers is the possible integration into micro-optical systems, such as lab-on-a-chip systems [4

4. M. Punke, T. Woggon, M. Stroisch, B. Ebenhoch, U. Geyer, C. Karnutsch, M. Gerken, U. Lemmer, M. Bruendel, J. Wang, and T. Weimann, “Organic semiconductor lasers as integrated light sources for optical sensor systems,” Proc. SPIE 6659, 665909 (2007). [CrossRef]

].

This work concentrates on distributed feedback (DFB) resonators as they have been identified to be capable of low threshold single mode lasing operation. An organic DFB laser is normally based on a slab waveguide structure formed by an optical transparent substrate with an organic layer on top. The distributed optical feedback can be induced by a modulation of the real or the imaginary part of the refractive index. The refractive index can be corrugated by periodically patterning the substrate surface or the organic layer.

Using photolithographic patterning techniques for organic materials turns out to be an intricate task due to the high solubility of organic semiconductor compounds. For this reason approaches for the fabrication of organic DFB lasers are based on pre-structured substrates. For organic DFB lasers based on a structured substrate primarily e-beam lithography, laser interference lithography and nanoimprint could be demonstrated with convincing results [5

5. D. Schneider, T. Rabe, T. Riedl, T. Dobbertin, M. Kroger, E. Becker, H. H. Johannes, W. Kowalsky, T. Weimann, J. Wang, and P. Hinze, “Ultrawide tuning range in doped organic solid-state lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 85(11), 1886 (2004). [CrossRef]

7

7. S. Riechel, U. Lemmer, J. Feldmann, S. Berleb, A. G. Mückl, W. Brütting, A. Gombert, and V. Wittwer, “Very compact tunable solid-state laser utilizing a thin-film organic semiconductor,” Opt. Lett. 26(9), 593–595 (2001). [CrossRef]

]. Other techniques like laser interference ablation [8

8. M. Stroisch, T. Woggon, U. Lemmer, G. Bastian, G. Violakis, and S. Pissadakis, “Organic semiconductor distributed feedback laser fabricated by direct laser interference ablation,” Opt. Express 15(7), 3968–3973 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], UV-linked polymers [9

9. T. Ubukata, T. Isoshima, and M. Hara, “Wavelength-programmable organic distributed-feedback laser based on a photoassisted polymer-migration system,” Adv. Mater. 17(13), 1630–1633 (2005). [CrossRef]

] or nanoimprint [10

10. D. Pisignano, L. Persano, P. Visconti, R. Cingolani, G. Gigli, G. Barbarella, and L. Favaretto, “Oligomer-based organic distributed feedback lasers by room-temperature nanoimprint lithography,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 83(13), 2545–2547 (2003). [CrossRef]

] have been successfully used for corrugating the active layer.

The benefit of organic laser materials over their inorganic counterparts is the typically large spectral gain and thus a large tuning range. The emission wavelength of a distributed feedback laser can be estimated by the Bragg formula: λBragg= 2Λneff /m

Here Λ is the grating period of the corrugation or the pumping pattern, neff is the effective refractive index of the guided mode and m represents the order of Bragg reflection used for optical feedback. According to this relation the emission wavelength for a specific laser material can be tuned by adjusting Λ or neff. Different grating periods [11

11. D. Schneider, S. Hartmann, T. Benstem, T. Dobbertin, D. Heithecker, D. Metzdorf, E. Becker, T. Riedl, H.-H. Johannes, W. Kowalsky, T. Weimann, J. Wang, and P. Hinze, “Wavelength-tunable organic solid-state distributed-feedback laser,” Appl. Phys. B 77(4), 399–402 (2003). [CrossRef]

] are an established way for achieving such a wavelength tuning although this approach relies on elaborated electron beam lithography for defining the grating structures with sufficient precision.

Parallel methods like laser interference lithography are far more suitable. However, resonators with different periodicities on the same substrate cannot be realized as convenient as it is possible with serial techniques. Using laser interference lithography for this task for example would require multiple exposures with different periods and shadow masks. Due to diffraction at the mask edges which is difficult to avoid, this is an elaborate task.

One method for dealing with this problem is to vary the thickness of the laser film thus changing the effective refractive index of the guided mode. This was done for evaporated organic thin films on different substrates [7

7. S. Riechel, U. Lemmer, J. Feldmann, S. Berleb, A. G. Mückl, W. Brütting, A. Gombert, and V. Wittwer, “Very compact tunable solid-state laser utilizing a thin-film organic semiconductor,” Opt. Lett. 26(9), 593–595 (2001). [CrossRef]

]. This technique, however, cannot easily be extended to solution processable organic semiconductors which are spin coated onto the substrate.

In contrast to these approaches we focus on the concept of influencing neff by an extra intermediate layer between the substrate and the active material. The material of the intermediate layer needs to be optical transparent and it should have a large refractive index compared to the adjoining layer materials. Typically, the refractive index of the substrate is 1.4- 1.5 and the active material is in the range of 1.6 - 1.8. Therefore high index materials like titanium dioxide (TiO2) and tantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5) are a good choice. Dependending on the evaporation process they have a refractive index of 2.0 - 2.3. In the case of rutile, a special crystalline form of TiO2 even up to 2.7 is possible.

Harbers et. al. investigated resonators based on columns consisting of TiO2 and could demonstrate a higher coupling constant and lower laser thresholds [12

12. R. Harbers, P. Strasser, D. Caimi, R. F. Mahrt, N. Moll, B. J. Offrein, D. Erni, W. Bachtold, and U. Scherf, “Enhanced feedback in organic photonic-crystal lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 87(15), 151121 (2005). [CrossRef]

]. Here we show the tuning of laser emission by varying the thickness of an intermediate Ta2O5 layer. This material has been used for various applications where dielectric waveguides are used. Losses on the order of 1 dB/mm have been reported [13

13. R. Rabady and I. Avrutsky, “Titania, silicon dioxide, and tantalum pentoxide waveguides and optical resonant filters prepared with radio-frequency magnetron sputtering and annealing,” Appl. Opt. 44(3), 378–383 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. This value is lower than the losses due the outcoupling of the laser radiation in second order distributed feedback structures used in our experiments.

2. Experimental

As a substrate we use sinusoidal gratings of ~95 nm depth and 400 nm in period. The gratings were formed by UV embossing into an acrylic resist [14

14. C. Kallinger, M. Hilmer, A. Haugeneder, M. Perner, W. Spirkl, U. Lemmer, J. Feldmann, U. Scherf, K. Müllen, A. Gombert, and V. Wittwer, “A Flexible Conjugated Polymer Laser,” Adv. Mater. 10(12), 920–923 (1998). [CrossRef]

]. The period is matched to a second order distributed feedback laser. Thus, the optical feedback is due to second order Bragg scattering and laser light is diffracted perpendicular to the device by first order scattering.

The intermediate layer of Ta2O5 was produced by e-beam evaporation with a rate of 6 Å/s. Onto this layer tris-(8-hydroxyquinoline) aluminium (Alq3) doped by 4 mol% 4-dicyanomethylene-2-methyl-6-(p-dimethylaminostyryl)-4H-pyran (DCM) was co-evaporated. The thickness of this layer was 350 nm. The scheme of the structure is depicted in Fig. 1(a)
Fig. 1 (a) Scheme of the layer structure used in the experiments. (b) Scheme of the sample with a gradient layer of Ta2O5. The arrow shows the direction of feedback.
.We produced seven samples with a size of 2.5 cm x 2.5 cm and homogeneous Ta2O5-layers up to 163 nm. To demonstrate variable wavelength tuning a sample with an area of 2.5 cm x 5 cm was evaporated with a wedge shaped layer of Ta2O5. This was realized by moving a shutter in front of the sample during the evaporation process forming layer thickness between 0 nm and 80 nm. In order to minimize the influence of the wedge on the laser performance the grating was oriented with its lines parallel to it. Therefore a homogeneous stripe of high index material is in the direction of the optical feedback [see Fig. 1(b)].

For the optical characterization the devices are pumped with a frequency-tripled neodym yttrium-vanadat (Nd:YVO4) laser which emits 500 ps long pulses at a wavelength of 355 nm. The used optical setup for characterization is described in more detail elsewhere [5

5. D. Schneider, T. Rabe, T. Riedl, T. Dobbertin, M. Kroger, E. Becker, H. H. Johannes, W. Kowalsky, T. Weimann, J. Wang, and P. Hinze, “Ultrawide tuning range in doped organic solid-state lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 85(11), 1886 (2004). [CrossRef]

].

3. Results and discussion

The thickness of the homogeneous Ta2O5-layer was varied from 28 nm to 163 nm. For each sample we measured the laser threshold and emission wavelength. Additionally we characterized a substrate without a high index layer for comparison. This device emits at 659 nm. The relation between the Ta2O5-layer thickness and the emission wavelength can be seen in Fig. 2(a)
Fig. 2 (a) Relation between thickness of the Ta2O5 layer and the laser wavelength for substrates with a homogenous layer of the high index material. (b) Laser wavelength dependency of the pump position on a substrate with a Ta2O5 wedge.
. The wavelength increases with rising layer thickness. The peak wavelength switches down to 612 nm at a layer thickness of 44 nm, where two laser lines at 667 nm and 612 nm can be observed. For higher Ta2O5 layer thicknesses the emission wavelength increases again.Figure 2(b) shows the relation between pump position and laser wavelength for the substrate with the tantalum pentoxide wedge. The pumping spot was moved by 500 µm between each measurement. The laser wavelength displays a very similar behavior as in the case of the substrates with different intermediate layer thicknesses.

To demonstrate the versatility of this tuning method also for the case of solution processable materials we fabricated a continuously tunable DFB laser device with a 190 nm thick spin coated layer of the conjugated polymer F8BT (poly(9,9'-dioctylfluorene-co-benzothiadiazole)). The active material was spin coated on top of a Ta2O5 wedge with the layer thickness ranging from 0 to 40 nm on a resonator with a grating period of 350 nm. Again spectral tuning by moving the spatial position of the optical pump beam on the substrate is possible. Figure 5
Fig. 5 Relation between the spatial pump position and the laser emission wavelength on a substrate with a Ta2O5 wedge and a spin coated F8BT conjugated polymer active layer. The Ta2O5 layer thickness was varied over a gradient ranging from 0 to 40 nm.
shows the resulting excitation position dependent laser emission wavelength. We achieved a tuning range of 10 nm.

4. Conclusion

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge financial support by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research BMBF through the projects OLAS (FKZ 13N8168A) and TOPLAS (FKZ 13N8242). T. Woggon acknowledges support from the Agilent Technology Foundation. S. Klinkhammer would like to thank the “Karlsruhe School of Optics and Photonics” for general support.

References and links

1.

C. Karnutsch, M. Stroisch, M. Punke, U. Lemmer, J. Wang, and T. Weimann, “Laser diode-pumped organic semiconductor lasers utilizing two-dimensional photonic crystal resonators,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 19(10), 741–743 (2007). [CrossRef]

2.

T. Riedl, T. Rabe, H. H. Johannes, W. Kowalsky, J. Wang, T. Weimann, P. Hinze, B. Nehls, T. Farrell, and U. Scherf, “Tunable organic thin-film laser pumped by an inorganic violet diode laser,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 88(24), 241116 (2006). [CrossRef]

3.

Y. Yang, G. A. Turnbull, and I. D. W. Samuel, “Hybrid optoelectronics: A polymer laser pumped by a nitride light-emitting diode,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 92(16), 163306 (2008). [CrossRef]

4.

M. Punke, T. Woggon, M. Stroisch, B. Ebenhoch, U. Geyer, C. Karnutsch, M. Gerken, U. Lemmer, M. Bruendel, J. Wang, and T. Weimann, “Organic semiconductor lasers as integrated light sources for optical sensor systems,” Proc. SPIE 6659, 665909 (2007). [CrossRef]

5.

D. Schneider, T. Rabe, T. Riedl, T. Dobbertin, M. Kroger, E. Becker, H. H. Johannes, W. Kowalsky, T. Weimann, J. Wang, and P. Hinze, “Ultrawide tuning range in doped organic solid-state lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 85(11), 1886 (2004). [CrossRef]

6.

G. A. Turnbull, P. Andrew, M. J. Jory, W. L. Barnes, and I. D. W. Samuel, “Relationship between photonic band structure and emission characteristics of a polymer distributed feedback laser,” Phys. Rev. B 64(12), 125122 (2001). [CrossRef]

7.

S. Riechel, U. Lemmer, J. Feldmann, S. Berleb, A. G. Mückl, W. Brütting, A. Gombert, and V. Wittwer, “Very compact tunable solid-state laser utilizing a thin-film organic semiconductor,” Opt. Lett. 26(9), 593–595 (2001). [CrossRef]

8.

M. Stroisch, T. Woggon, U. Lemmer, G. Bastian, G. Violakis, and S. Pissadakis, “Organic semiconductor distributed feedback laser fabricated by direct laser interference ablation,” Opt. Express 15(7), 3968–3973 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

9.

T. Ubukata, T. Isoshima, and M. Hara, “Wavelength-programmable organic distributed-feedback laser based on a photoassisted polymer-migration system,” Adv. Mater. 17(13), 1630–1633 (2005). [CrossRef]

10.

D. Pisignano, L. Persano, P. Visconti, R. Cingolani, G. Gigli, G. Barbarella, and L. Favaretto, “Oligomer-based organic distributed feedback lasers by room-temperature nanoimprint lithography,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 83(13), 2545–2547 (2003). [CrossRef]

11.

D. Schneider, S. Hartmann, T. Benstem, T. Dobbertin, D. Heithecker, D. Metzdorf, E. Becker, T. Riedl, H.-H. Johannes, W. Kowalsky, T. Weimann, J. Wang, and P. Hinze, “Wavelength-tunable organic solid-state distributed-feedback laser,” Appl. Phys. B 77(4), 399–402 (2003). [CrossRef]

12.

R. Harbers, P. Strasser, D. Caimi, R. F. Mahrt, N. Moll, B. J. Offrein, D. Erni, W. Bachtold, and U. Scherf, “Enhanced feedback in organic photonic-crystal lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 87(15), 151121 (2005). [CrossRef]

13.

R. Rabady and I. Avrutsky, “Titania, silicon dioxide, and tantalum pentoxide waveguides and optical resonant filters prepared with radio-frequency magnetron sputtering and annealing,” Appl. Opt. 44(3), 378–383 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

14.

C. Kallinger, M. Hilmer, A. Haugeneder, M. Perner, W. Spirkl, U. Lemmer, J. Feldmann, U. Scherf, K. Müllen, A. Gombert, and V. Wittwer, “A Flexible Conjugated Polymer Laser,” Adv. Mater. 10(12), 920–923 (1998). [CrossRef]

OCIS Codes
(050.7330) Diffraction and gratings : Volume gratings
(140.3390) Lasers and laser optics : Laser materials processing
(140.3490) Lasers and laser optics : Lasers, distributed-feedback
(140.5960) Lasers and laser optics : Semiconductor lasers
(140.7300) Lasers and laser optics : Visible lasers
(160.4890) Materials : Organic materials

ToC Category:
Lasers and Laser Optics

History
Original Manuscript: August 21, 2009
Revised Manuscript: January 8, 2010
Manuscript Accepted: January 25, 2010
Published: March 10, 2010

Citation
M. Stroisch, T. Woggon, C. Teiwes-Morin, S. Klinkhammer, K. Forberich, A. Gombert, M. Gerken, and U. Lemmer, "Intermediate high index layer for laser mode tuning in organic semiconductor lasers," Opt. Express 18, 5890-5895 (2010)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-18-6-5890


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References

  1. C. Karnutsch, M. Stroisch, M. Punke, U. Lemmer, J. Wang, and T. Weimann, “Laser diode-pumped organic semiconductor lasers utilizing two-dimensional photonic crystal resonators,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 19(10), 741–743 (2007). [CrossRef]
  2. T. Riedl, T. Rabe, H. H. Johannes, W. Kowalsky, J. Wang, T. Weimann, P. Hinze, B. Nehls, T. Farrell, and U. Scherf, “Tunable organic thin-film laser pumped by an inorganic violet diode laser,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 88(24), 241116 (2006). [CrossRef]
  3. Y. Yang, G. A. Turnbull, and I. D. W. Samuel, “Hybrid optoelectronics: A polymer laser pumped by a nitride light-emitting diode,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 92(16), 163306 (2008). [CrossRef]
  4. M. Punke, T. Woggon, M. Stroisch, B. Ebenhoch, U. Geyer, C. Karnutsch, M. Gerken, U. Lemmer, M. Bruendel, J. Wang, and T. Weimann, “Organic semiconductor lasers as integrated light sources for optical sensor systems,” Proc. SPIE 6659, 665909 (2007). [CrossRef]
  5. D. Schneider, T. Rabe, T. Riedl, T. Dobbertin, M. Kroger, E. Becker, H. H. Johannes, W. Kowalsky, T. Weimann, J. Wang, and P. Hinze, “Ultrawide tuning range in doped organic solid-state lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 85(11), 1886 (2004). [CrossRef]
  6. G. A. Turnbull, P. Andrew, M. J. Jory, W. L. Barnes, and I. D. W. Samuel, “Relationship between photonic band structure and emission characteristics of a polymer distributed feedback laser,” Phys. Rev. B 64(12), 125122 (2001). [CrossRef]
  7. S. Riechel, U. Lemmer, J. Feldmann, S. Berleb, A. G. Mückl, W. Brütting, A. Gombert, and V. Wittwer, “Very compact tunable solid-state laser utilizing a thin-film organic semiconductor,” Opt. Lett. 26(9), 593–595 (2001). [CrossRef]
  8. M. Stroisch, T. Woggon, U. Lemmer, G. Bastian, G. Violakis, and S. Pissadakis, “Organic semiconductor distributed feedback laser fabricated by direct laser interference ablation,” Opt. Express 15(7), 3968–3973 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. T. Ubukata, T. Isoshima, and M. Hara, “Wavelength-programmable organic distributed-feedback laser based on a photoassisted polymer-migration system,” Adv. Mater. 17(13), 1630–1633 (2005). [CrossRef]
  10. D. Pisignano, L. Persano, P. Visconti, R. Cingolani, G. Gigli, G. Barbarella, and L. Favaretto, “Oligomer-based organic distributed feedback lasers by room-temperature nanoimprint lithography,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 83(13), 2545–2547 (2003). [CrossRef]
  11. D. Schneider, S. Hartmann, T. Benstem, T. Dobbertin, D. Heithecker, D. Metzdorf, E. Becker, T. Riedl, H.-H. Johannes, W. Kowalsky, T. Weimann, J. Wang, and P. Hinze, “Wavelength-tunable organic solid-state distributed-feedback laser,” Appl. Phys. B 77(4), 399–402 (2003). [CrossRef]
  12. R. Harbers, P. Strasser, D. Caimi, R. F. Mahrt, N. Moll, B. J. Offrein, D. Erni, W. Bachtold, and U. Scherf, “Enhanced feedback in organic photonic-crystal lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 87(15), 151121 (2005). [CrossRef]
  13. R. Rabady and I. Avrutsky, “Titania, silicon dioxide, and tantalum pentoxide waveguides and optical resonant filters prepared with radio-frequency magnetron sputtering and annealing,” Appl. Opt. 44(3), 378–383 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. C. Kallinger, M. Hilmer, A. Haugeneder, M. Perner, W. Spirkl, U. Lemmer, J. Feldmann, U. Scherf, K. Müllen, A. Gombert, and V. Wittwer, “A Flexible Conjugated Polymer Laser,” Adv. Mater. 10(12), 920–923 (1998). [CrossRef]

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