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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: Andrew M. Weiner
  • Vol. 21, Iss. 2 — Jan. 28, 2013
  • pp: 2024–2031
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Bending effects on lasing action of semiconductor nanowires

Weisong Yang, Yaoguang Ma, Yipei Wang, Chao Meng, Xiaoqin Wu, Yu Ye, Lun Dai, Limin Tong, Xu Liu, and Qing Yang  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 21, Issue 2, pp. 2024-2031 (2013)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.21.002024


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Abstract

High flexibility has been one of advantages for one-dimensional semiconductor nanowires (NWs) in wide application of nanoscale integrated circuits. We investigate the bending effects on lasing action of CdSe NWs. Threshold increases and differential efficiency decreases gradually when we decrease the bending radius step by step. Red shift and mode reduction in the output spectra are also observed. The bending loss of laser oscillation is considerably larger than that of photoluminescence (PL), and both show the exponential relationship with the bending radius. Diameter and mode dependent bending losses are investigated. Furthermore, the polarizations of output can be modulated linearly by bending the NWs into different angles continuously.

© 2013 OSA

1. Introduction

Recently, nanoscale lasers have attracted a great deal of interest due to their great potential to generate highly localized integrable coherent light sources used in a great variety of scientific and technological applications including communications, metrology and biology [1

1. H. Altug, D. Englund, and J. Vučković, “Ultrafast photonic crystal nanocavity laser,” Nature 2, 484–488 (2006).

4

4. P. L. Gourley, J. K. Hendricks, A. E. McDonald, R. G. Copeland, K. E. Barrett, C. R. Gourley, and R. K. Naviaux, “Ultrafast nanolaser flow device for detecting cancer in single cells,” Biomed. Microdevices 7(4), 331–339 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Semiconductor nanowires (NWs) are promising for realization of the nanoscale lasers owing to their unique properties as gain media, resonant cavities and passive waveguides [5

5. C. J. Barrelet, A. B. Greytak, and C. M. Lieber, “Nanowires photonic circuits elements,” Nano Lett. 4(10), 1981–1985 (2004). [CrossRef]

10

10. M. A. Zimmler, J. M. Bao, F. Capasso, S. Müller, and C. Ronning, “Laser action in nanowires observation of the transition from amplified spontaneous emission to laser oscillation,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(5), 051101 (2008). [CrossRef]

]. On the other hand, with the virtue of high-aspect-ratio, easily bent semiconductor NWs have contributed a lot to the development of the flexible electronics [11

11. J. He and C. M. Lilley, “Surface effect on the elastic behavior of static bending nanowires,” Nano Lett. 8(7), 1798–1802 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 12

12. S. Xu, Y. Qin, C. Xu, Y. G. Wei, R. Yang, and Z. L. Wang, “Self-powered nanowire devices,” Nat. Nanotechnol. 5(5), 366–373 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. A great number of theoretical and experimental studies have been devoted for a better understanding of the optical and electronic properties of bent semiconductor NWs [13

13. E. A. J. Marcatili, “Bends in optical dielectric guides,” Bell Syst. Tech. J. 48, 2103–2132 (1969).

20

20. B. Yan, R. Chen, W. W. Zhou, J. X. Zhang, H. D. Sun, H. Gong, and T. Yu, “Localized suppression of longitudinal-optical-phonon-exciton coupling in bent ZnO nanowires,” Nanotechnology 21(44), 445706 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Central to progress in this area have been the investigations about passive waveguides [16

16. H. K. Yu, S. S. Wang, J. Fu, M. Qiu, Y. H. Li, F. X. Gu, and L. M. Tong, “Modeling bending losses of optical nanofibers or nanowires,” Appl. Opt. 48(22), 4365–4369 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 17

17. Y. A. Vlasov and S. J. McNab, “Losses in single-mode silicon-on-insulator strip waveguides and bends,” Opt. Express 12(8), 1622–1631 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 19

19. M. Khorasaninejad and S. S. Saini, “Bend waveguides on silicon nanowire optical waveguides (SNOW),” IEEE Photon. J. 3(4), 696–702 (2011). [CrossRef]

, 21

21. L. M. Tong, R. R. Gattass, J. B. Ashcom, S. L. He, J. Y. Lou, M. Y. Shen, I. Maxwell, and E. Mazur, “Subwavelength-diameter silica wires for low-loss optical wave guiding,” Nature 426(6968), 816–819 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] and luminescence properties [14

14. X. B. Han, L. Z. Kou, X. L. Lang, J. B. Xia, N. Wang, R. Qin, J. Xu, Z. M. Liao, X. Z. Zhang, X. D. Shan, X. F. Song, J. Y. Gao, W. L. Guo, and D. P. Yu, “Electronic and mechanical coupling in bent ZnO nanowires,” Adv. Mater. (Deerfield Beach Fla.) 21(48), 4937–4941 (2009). [CrossRef]

, 20

20. B. Yan, R. Chen, W. W. Zhou, J. X. Zhang, H. D. Sun, H. Gong, and T. Yu, “Localized suppression of longitudinal-optical-phonon-exciton coupling in bent ZnO nanowires,” Nanotechnology 21(44), 445706 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 22

22. B. Wei, K. Zheng, Y. Ji, Y. F. Zhang, Z. Zhang, and X. D. Han, “Size-dependent bandgap modulation of ZnO nanowires by tensile strain,” Nano Lett. 12(9), 4595–4599 (2012). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. However, to the best of our knowledge, the bending effects on the lasing action of semiconductor NWs have not yet been reported,which could be very helpful to further investigations about nanoscale lasers that include curved structures such as ring [23

23. P. J. Pauzauskie, D. J. Sirbuly, and P. D. Yang, “Semiconductor nanowire ring resonator laser,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 96(14), 143903 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], loop [24

24. Y. Xiao, C. Meng, P. Wang, Y. Ye, H. K. Yu, S. S. Wang, F. X. Gu, L. Dai, and L. M. Tong, “Single-nanowire single-mode Laser,” Nano Lett. 11(3), 1122–1126 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], knot [25

25. X. S. Jiang, L. M. Tong, G. Vienne, X. Guo, A. Tsao, Q. Yang, and D. R. Yang, “Demonstration of optical microfiber knot resonators,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 88(22), 223501 (2006). [CrossRef]

] and so on, in order to improve the cavity quality factor and decrease the threshold. Furthermore, the study of bending effects on NW lasers may provide important information for their practical applications since strain and deformation are common in the package of micro/nanoscale devices [26

26. S. Maikap, M. H. Liao, F. Yuan, M. H. Lee, C.-F. Huang, S. T. Chang, and C. W. Liu, “Package-strain-enhanced device and circuit performance,” IEDM. Tech. Dig., 233–236 (2004).

].

In this letter, we report the bending effects on the properties of optical-excited lasing action in CdSe NWs by gradually changing curvatures. With the curvature radius of the bent NWs becoming smaller, the threshold increases and the differential efficiency decreases. And the strain-induced change in band structure, which is indicative of the coupling of mechanical and electronic properties, is responsible for obvious red shift of the lasing peaks. Due to the oscillation of light in resonant cavity, the bending loss of NW laser is N times as large as that of PL. The N-fold amplification of bending loss of laser predicts a more sensitive approach to measure the perturbation of light induced by fairly small deformation or strain [27

27. W. Demtrӧder, Laser Spectroscopy (Springer, 2003).

]. We also conduct some numerical simulations to investigate the diameter and mode dependence on the bending loss. Moreover, through bending the NWs into different angles continuously, we could modulate the polarization of laser emission linearly.

2. Experimental

The CdSe NWs used in this work are synthesized by chemical vapor transport process [28

28. C. Ma, Y. Ding, D. Moore, X. D. Wang, and Z. L. Wang, “Single-crystal CdSe nanosaws,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 126(3), 708–709 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. We transfer CdSe NWs to a substrate and bend them into different radius through a nanotaper which is fabricated by directly drawing a commercial optical fiber. The bent NWs, which are elastic, are able to remain the curved shape due to Van der Walls force between the substrate and the CdSe NWs. One end of the NW is excited by 532 nm laser pulses (2 kHz repetition rate, 6 ns pulse width) from a frequency doubled laser under an 100 × optical microscope with a spot size ~20 μm. The light emission from the other end of CdSe NW is collected for imaging and spectral measurement respectively through a dichroic beam splitter. The process of optical excitation is schematically illustrated in Fig. 1(a)
Fig. 1 (a) Schematic diagram of the experimental setup for optical excitation and bending process. (b) Bright-field optical images of a 50 μm length 650 nm diameter CdSe NW with gradually decreased bending radius without optical excitation. (c) Dark-field optical images for the corresponding bending process under the same intensity of optical excitation. Two of the most weakened optical emissions from the bending end of the NW are indicated by the white arrows. Scale bar in (b) applies to (c).
. All above measurements are performed at room temperature.

Figures 1(b) and 1(c) illustrate the bright-field and dark-field CCD images of a CdSe NW with gradually decreased bending radius, respectively. In Fig. 1(c), the left end of the NW is excited at the same pumping power and the optical emission from the right end of the NW weakened continuously with the curvatures increase step by step, which could be explained by the increased bending loss induced by decreased bending radius.

3. Results and discussion

Generally, laser oscillation occurs when the round-trip gain equals to the round-trip loss [29

29. A. E. Siegman, Lasers (University Science Books, Sausalito, CA, 1986).

]. For straight semiconductor NWs, the losses consist of propagation loss and mirror loss that dominates [30

30. M. A. Zimmler, F. Capasso, S. Müller, and C. Ronning, “Optically pumped nanowire lasers: invited review,” Semicond. Sci. Technol. 25(2), 024001 (2010). [CrossRef]

]. When the NWs are bent, the phase front at where is more distant from the center of curvature, needs to travel faster than the nearer ones. At some critical distance, the phase front travels as fast as the local light speed, which can be seen in Fig. 2
Fig. 2 Diagram of phase front in a bent NW. R is bending radius, and Rc represents for the critical radius, where the phase front travels as fast as local light speed.
. And the field beyond the critical distance has to travel faster than the light speed, which is impossible to happen. So it breaks away and the light leaks away through radiation, thus leads to bending loss [31

31. M. Lipson, “Guiding, modulating, and emitting light on silicon-challenges and opportunities,” J. Lightwave Technol. 23(12), 4222–4238 (2005). [CrossRef]

]. Therefore, the losses in bent NWs consist of propagation loss, mirror loss and bending loss.

More gain would be needed to overcome the higher threshold loss induced by increased bending loss when the NWs are bent to smaller radius, assuming the propagation loss and mirror loss are constant during the bending process. As a consequence, the threshold lifts up, as illustrated in Fig. 3(a)
Fig. 3 (a) Integrated emission intensity versus pump power of a 60 µm length 500 nm diameter CdSe NW with different bending radius: ∞, 36, 13, 11 μm, respectively. (b) The plot of threshold and differential efficiency versus bending angles. Bending angles are reversely proportional to the bending radius since the length of the bending portion of the NWs keeps almost the same during the bending process. (c) Red shift output spectra of a 60 μm length 500 nm diameter CdSe NW under the same pump power with different bending radius: ∞, 36, 13, 11 μm. (d) Mode-reduction spectra of a 40 μm length 500 nm diameter CdSe NW under the same pump power with different bending radius: ∞, 22, 13 μm.
and black square dots in Fig. 3(b). The value of the slope (differential efficiency) indicates the efficiency of converting the pumping photons into the emitting lasing photons. The blue triangle dots in Fig. 3(b) show that the differential efficiency decreases when the bending angle increases. It may be explained by the fact that the photons excited by the pumping laser would suffer greater bending loss and have a less chance to lase at smaller bending radius. In Fig. 3(c), the intensities of the laser peaks reduce gradually with decreased bending radius. And at the smallest bending radius (11 µm), only PL spectrum rather than laser peaks appears. The relationship between the mechanical strain and the change of threshold may lead to applications in optical switches [32

32. T. A. Ibrahim, W. Cao, Y. Kim, J. Li, J. Goldhar, P.-T. Ho, and C. H. Lee, “All-optical switching in a laterally coupled microring resonator by carrier injection,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 15(1), 36–38 (2003). [CrossRef]

], logic gates [33

33. Y. Huang, X. Duan, Y. Cui, L. J. Lauhon, K. H. Kim, and C. M. Lieber, “Logic gates and computation from assembled nanowire building blocks,” Science 294(5545), 1313–1317 (2001). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], and sensors [34

34. J. Zhou, Y. D. Gu, P. Fei, W. J. Mai, Y. F. Gao, R. S. Yang, G. Bao, and Z. L. Wang, “Flexible piezotronic strain sensor,” Nano Lett. 8(9), 3035–3040 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

].

It is also observed that obvious red shift occurs during the bending process from Fig. 3(c). This phenomenon originates from bandgap reduction induced by strain, which is theoretically and experimentally demonstrated in recent works [14

14. X. B. Han, L. Z. Kou, X. L. Lang, J. B. Xia, N. Wang, R. Qin, J. Xu, Z. M. Liao, X. Z. Zhang, X. D. Shan, X. F. Song, J. Y. Gao, W. L. Guo, and D. P. Yu, “Electronic and mechanical coupling in bent ZnO nanowires,” Adv. Mater. (Deerfield Beach Fla.) 21(48), 4937–4941 (2009). [CrossRef]

, 18

18. Q. Fu, Z. Y. Zhang, L. Z. Kou, P. C. Wu, X. B. Han, X. L. Zhu, J. Y. Gao, J. Xu, Q. Zhao, W. L. Guo, and D. P. Yu, “Linear strain-gradient effect on the energy bandgap in bent CdS nanowires,” Nano Res. 4(3), 308–314 (2011). [CrossRef]

]. In addition, the decrease of the number of modes deserves considerable notice, as shown in Fig. 3(d). The modes at larger wavelength, which have more portion out of the waveguides, suffer greater bending loss and leak away more likely. With further investigation, maybe it could be designed as a very simple single-NW single-mode nanolaser [24

24. Y. Xiao, C. Meng, P. Wang, Y. Ye, H. K. Yu, S. S. Wang, F. X. Gu, L. Dai, and L. M. Tong, “Single-nanowire single-mode Laser,” Nano Lett. 11(3), 1122–1126 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

].

Figure 4(a)
Fig. 4 (a) The plot of bending loss versus bending radius of a 37 μm length 310 nm diameter CdSe NW. Black exponential line is for PL, and red one for laser. (b) Simulation results of diameter-dependent bending losses of PL. (c) The electric field intensity distributions in x-z plane, the corresponding output mode profiles are shown above. The NW diameter D is 400 nm, and the bending radius are 0.75 μm and 4μm, respectively. (d) Diameter-dependent bending losses of laser obtained from experiments. The blue square dots represent a 35 μm length 410 nm diameter NW, and the purple round dots represent a 38 μm length 260 nm diameter NW. (e) Simulation results of bending losses for the first three guided modes. Diameter of NW used here is 300 nm. (f) The input (left) and output (right) mode profiles in y-z plane of the first three guided modes. The NW diameter is 300 nm, and the bending radius is 2 μm.
shows the curvature-dependent bending loss. The pure bending loss for PL (αb) and laser (α’b) are obtained by normalizing the output intensity of the curved NWs to that of the straight NWs [5

5. C. J. Barrelet, A. B. Greytak, and C. M. Lieber, “Nanowires photonic circuits elements,” Nano Lett. 4(10), 1981–1985 (2004). [CrossRef]

]. And it can be expressed as:

αb=10logI2I1,
(1)
α'b=10logI'2I'1=Nαb.
(2)

where I1 and I’1 are the output intensity of PL and laser in straight NWs, respectively. And I2 and I’2 are the output intensity in bent NWs, respectively. As shown in Fig. 4(a), bending loss of PL (black line) and laser (red line) both show exponential relationships with the bending radius, and the bending loss for laser is N times as large as that of PL. Similar with the N-times enhancement of absorption loss when placing an absorbing sample inside the laser cavity, the bending loss of laser will be increased by times compared with that of PL. Thus N could be considered as the average times the photons travel back and forth between the resonator mirrors. The N-fold amplification of bending loss of laser predicts that it may provide a more sensitive approach to measure the perturbation of light induced by small deformation or strain.

The diameter of a NW plays an important role in optical confinement, and thus also determines the bending loss. We conduct numerical simulations to investigate the dependence of bending losses on the NW diameter by using a Comsol Multiphysics finite elements method. The refractive index of the NW is assumed to be 2.85 and the incident wavelength is 725 nm. The computational domain is discretized into a triangular mesh with an element size of one fifteenth of the NW diameter, and terminated by perfectly matched layer (PML) boundaries. Figure 4(b) shows the diameter-dependent bending loss of the fundamental mode (HE11 mode) propagating in the NW. The electric field distribution and output mode profiles of a 400 nm diameter NW are shown in Fig. 4(c). Reasonably, in a thick NW, the mode is mostly contained in the NW core; while in a thin NW, a large field distribution of the mode is outside the core of the NW and could be easily affected by bending of the NW. Therefore the thinner NW suffers larger bending loss.

The polarization of the laser emission from the bending end can be tuned gradually as the emission end being bent to different bending angles. Figures 5(a) and 5(b) show typical plots of the polarization of the laser emission of the bent NWs. We plot the relationship between the bending angles and the predominant polarization of the NW laser emission in Fig. 5(d). And it fits well into the linear relationship β = α + 90°, where α is the angle between the axis along the bending end of NW and the horizontal direction, β is the angle between the predominant polarization direction and the horizontal direction. When the emission end is bent to 90 degrees, we can reduce the unwanted signals to minimum thus greatly enhance the signal-noise ratio.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, we have investigated the bending effects on the lasing action of CdSe NWs. Threshold increases and differential efficiency decreases when the bending radius decreases. The bending loss of laser is about N times as large as the bending loss of PL and shows the same exponential dependence on the bending radius. We also found that the bending loss depends on diameters of the NWs and mode types. A novel phenomenon is observed: the laser’s bending loss of the thick NW is larger than that of the thin NW at comparably large bending radius. We explain the results with numerical simulation. Red shift of laser peaks and mode reduction are also observed. The linear relationship between the polarization direction and the bending angles may be utilized to modulate the polarization of the laser emission just in a simple way through bending NWs. These bending effects on the lasing action of CdSe NWs deserve further investigations and may contribute a lot to the constructions of nanoscale laser world.

Acknowledgment

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 61177062) and National Key Basic Research Program of China (No. 2013CB328703) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities. The authors would like to thank Ying Liu, Haoliang Qian, Huakang Yu, Pan Wang, and Yize Lu for their help in experiments and discussions.

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J. He and C. M. Lilley, “Surface effect on the elastic behavior of static bending nanowires,” Nano Lett. 8(7), 1798–1802 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

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S. Xu, Y. Qin, C. Xu, Y. G. Wei, R. Yang, and Z. L. Wang, “Self-powered nanowire devices,” Nat. Nanotechnol. 5(5), 366–373 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

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X. B. Han, L. Z. Kou, X. L. Lang, J. B. Xia, N. Wang, R. Qin, J. Xu, Z. M. Liao, X. Z. Zhang, X. D. Shan, X. F. Song, J. Y. Gao, W. L. Guo, and D. P. Yu, “Electronic and mechanical coupling in bent ZnO nanowires,” Adv. Mater. (Deerfield Beach Fla.) 21(48), 4937–4941 (2009). [CrossRef]

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B. Yan, R. Chen, W. W. Zhou, J. X. Zhang, H. D. Sun, H. Gong, and T. Yu, “Localized suppression of longitudinal-optical-phonon-exciton coupling in bent ZnO nanowires,” Nanotechnology 21(44), 445706 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

21.

L. M. Tong, R. R. Gattass, J. B. Ashcom, S. L. He, J. Y. Lou, M. Y. Shen, I. Maxwell, and E. Mazur, “Subwavelength-diameter silica wires for low-loss optical wave guiding,” Nature 426(6968), 816–819 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

22.

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X. S. Jiang, L. M. Tong, G. Vienne, X. Guo, A. Tsao, Q. Yang, and D. R. Yang, “Demonstration of optical microfiber knot resonators,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 88(22), 223501 (2006). [CrossRef]

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34.

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J. C. Johnson, H. Q. Yan, P. D. Yang, and R. J. Saykally, “Optical cavity effects in ZnO nanowire lasers and waveguides,” J. Phys. Chem. B 107(34), 8816–8828 (2003). [CrossRef]

38.

S. S. Wang, Z. F. Hu, H. K. Yu, W. Fang, M. Qiu, and L. M. Tong, “Endface reflectivities of optical nanowires,” Opt. Express 17(13), 10881–10886 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

39.

L. M. Tong, J. Y. Lou, R. R. Gattass, S. L. He, X. W. Chen, L. Liu, and E. Mazur, “Assembly of silica nanowires on silica aerogels for microphotonic devices,” Nano Lett. 5(2), 259–262 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

OCIS Codes
(140.5960) Lasers and laser optics : Semiconductor lasers
(260.5430) Physical optics : Polarization

ToC Category:
Lasers and Laser Optics

History
Original Manuscript: September 26, 2012
Revised Manuscript: November 16, 2012
Manuscript Accepted: January 9, 2013
Published: January 18, 2013

Citation
Weisong Yang, Yaoguang Ma, Yipei Wang, Chao Meng, Xiaoqin Wu, Yu Ye, Lun Dai, Limin Tong, Xu Liu, and Qing Yang, "Bending effects on lasing action of semiconductor nanowires," Opt. Express 21, 2024-2031 (2013)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-21-2-2024


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