Abstract

The first observation of random laser action in a partially ordered, optically anisotropic nematic liquid crystal with long-range dielectric tensor fluctuations is reported. Above a given pump power the fluorescence curve collapses and the typical narrowing and explosion effect leads to discrete sharp peaks. The unexpected surviving of interference effects in recurrent multiple scattering provide the required optical feedback for lasing in nematics. Coherent backscattering of light waves in orientationally ordered nematic liquid crystals manifests a weak localization of light which strongly supports diffusive laser action in presence of gain medium. Intensity fluctuations of the speckle-like emission pattern indicate the typical spatio-temporal randomness of diffusive laser emission. A comparison of the laser action is reported for systems with different order degree: fully disordered semiconductor powders, self-ordered cholesterics and partially ordered nematic liquid crystals.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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2005

R. Sapienza, S. Mujumdar, C. Cheung, A. G. Yodh, D. Wiersma, "Anisotropic weak localization of light," Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 033903 (2005).
[CrossRef]

G. Strangi, V. Barna, R. Caputo, A. De Luca, G. N. Price, C. Versace, N. Scaramuzza, C. Umeton, and R. Bartolino, "Color-Tunable Organic Microcavity Laser Array Using Distributed Feedback," Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 063903 (2005). (Editor’s choice for the 2005 Virtual J.Nanoscale Sci. Technol.,  11 (8), 2005).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

2002

W. Cao, A. Munoz, P. Palffy-Muhoray, and B. Taheri, "Lasing in a three-dimensional photonic crystal of the liquid crystal blue phase II," Nature Materials 1, 111 (2002).
[CrossRef]

J. Schmidtke, W. Stille, H. Finkelmann, and S.T. Kim, "Laser Emission in a Dye Doped Cholesteric Polymer Network," Adv. Mater. 14, 746 (2002).
[CrossRef]

M. Ozaki, M. Kasano, D. Ganzke, W. Haase, and K. Yoshino, "Mirrorless Lasing in a Dye-Doped Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal," Adv. Mater. 14, 306 (2002).
[CrossRef]

2001

D. Wiersma and S. Cavalieri, "A temperature tunable random laser," Nature 414, 708 (2001).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

2000

H. Cao, J. Y. Xu, E. W. Seelig, and R. P. H. Chang, "Microlaser made of disordered media," Appl. Phys. Lett.,  76, 2997 (2000).
[CrossRef]

1999

H. Cao, Y. G. Zhao, S. T. Ho, E. W. Seelig, Q. H. Wang, and R. P. H. Chang, "Random Laser Action in Semiconductor Powder," Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 2278 (1999).
[CrossRef]

D. S. Wiersma, A. Muzzi, M. Colocci, R. Righini, "Time-resolved anisotropic multiple light scattering in Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 83, 4321 (1999).
[CrossRef]

1998

1997

1996

B. A. van Tiggelen, R. Maynard, and A. Heiderich, "Anisotropic light diffusion in Oriented Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 639 (1996).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

H. Stark and T. C. Lubensky, "Multiple Light Scattering in Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 2229 (1996).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

M. H. Kao, K. A. Jeter, A. G. Yodh, P. J. Colling, "Observation of light diffusion and correlation transport in Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 2233 (1996).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

M. A. Noginov, N. E. Noginov, H. J. Caulfield, P. Venkateswarlu, T. Thompson, M. Mahdi, and V. Ostroumov, "Short-pulsed stimulated emission in the powders of NdAl3(BO3)4, NdSc3(BO3)4, and Nd:Sr5(PO4)3F laser crystals," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 13, 2024 (1996).
[CrossRef]

1994

A. Z. Genack and J. M. Drake, "Scattering for super-radiation," Nature 368, 400 (1994).
[CrossRef]

1993

1986

V. M. Markushev, V. F. Zolin and Ch. M. Briskina "Luminescence and stimulated emission of neodymium in sodium lanthanum molybdate powders," Sov. J. Quantum Electron. 16, 281 (1986).
[CrossRef]

1968

V. S. Letokhov, "Quantum statistics of multiple- mode emission of an atomic ensemble," Sov. Phys.-JETP 26,1246 (1968).

1958

P.W. Anderson, "Absence of diffusion in certain random lattices," Phys. Rev. 109, 1492 (1958).
[CrossRef]

Anderson, P. W.

P.W. Anderson, "Absence of diffusion in certain random lattices," Phys. Rev. 109, 1492 (1958).
[CrossRef]

Asfaw, L.

H. K. Vithana, L. Asfaw, and D. L. Johnson, "Coherent backscattering of light in a nematic liquid crystal," Phys. Rev. Lett. 70, 3561 (1993).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Auzel, F.

Barna, V.

G. Strangi, V. Barna, R. Caputo, A. De Luca, G. N. Price, C. Versace, N. Scaramuzza, C. Umeton, and R. Bartolino, "Color-Tunable Organic Microcavity Laser Array Using Distributed Feedback," Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 063903 (2005). (Editor’s choice for the 2005 Virtual J.Nanoscale Sci. Technol.,  11 (8), 2005).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Bartolino, R.

G. Strangi, V. Barna, R. Caputo, A. De Luca, G. N. Price, C. Versace, N. Scaramuzza, C. Umeton, and R. Bartolino, "Color-Tunable Organic Microcavity Laser Array Using Distributed Feedback," Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 063903 (2005). (Editor’s choice for the 2005 Virtual J.Nanoscale Sci. Technol.,  11 (8), 2005).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Briskina, Ch. M.

V. M. Markushev, V. F. Zolin and Ch. M. Briskina "Luminescence and stimulated emission of neodymium in sodium lanthanum molybdate powders," Sov. J. Quantum Electron. 16, 281 (1986).
[CrossRef]

Cao, H.

H. Cao, J. Y. Xu, E. W. Seelig, and R. P. H. Chang, "Microlaser made of disordered media," Appl. Phys. Lett.,  76, 2997 (2000).
[CrossRef]

H. Cao, Y. G. Zhao, S. T. Ho, E. W. Seelig, Q. H. Wang, and R. P. H. Chang, "Random Laser Action in Semiconductor Powder," Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 2278 (1999).
[CrossRef]

Cao, W.

W. Cao, A. Munoz, P. Palffy-Muhoray, and B. Taheri, "Lasing in a three-dimensional photonic crystal of the liquid crystal blue phase II," Nature Materials 1, 111 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Caputo, R.

G. Strangi, V. Barna, R. Caputo, A. De Luca, G. N. Price, C. Versace, N. Scaramuzza, C. Umeton, and R. Bartolino, "Color-Tunable Organic Microcavity Laser Array Using Distributed Feedback," Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 063903 (2005). (Editor’s choice for the 2005 Virtual J.Nanoscale Sci. Technol.,  11 (8), 2005).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Caulfield, H. J.

Cavalieri, S.

D. Wiersma and S. Cavalieri, "A temperature tunable random laser," Nature 414, 708 (2001).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Chang, R. P. H.

H. Cao, J. Y. Xu, E. W. Seelig, and R. P. H. Chang, "Microlaser made of disordered media," Appl. Phys. Lett.,  76, 2997 (2000).
[CrossRef]

H. Cao, Y. G. Zhao, S. T. Ho, E. W. Seelig, Q. H. Wang, and R. P. H. Chang, "Random Laser Action in Semiconductor Powder," Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 2278 (1999).
[CrossRef]

Cheung, C.

R. Sapienza, S. Mujumdar, C. Cheung, A. G. Yodh, D. Wiersma, "Anisotropic weak localization of light," Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 033903 (2005).
[CrossRef]

Colling, P. J.

M. H. Kao, K. A. Jeter, A. G. Yodh, P. J. Colling, "Observation of light diffusion and correlation transport in Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 2233 (1996).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Colocci, M.

D. S. Wiersma, A. Muzzi, M. Colocci, R. Righini, "Time-resolved anisotropic multiple light scattering in Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 83, 4321 (1999).
[CrossRef]

De Luca, A.

G. Strangi, V. Barna, R. Caputo, A. De Luca, G. N. Price, C. Versace, N. Scaramuzza, C. Umeton, and R. Bartolino, "Color-Tunable Organic Microcavity Laser Array Using Distributed Feedback," Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 063903 (2005). (Editor’s choice for the 2005 Virtual J.Nanoscale Sci. Technol.,  11 (8), 2005).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Drake, J. M.

A. Z. Genack and J. M. Drake, "Scattering for super-radiation," Nature 368, 400 (1994).
[CrossRef]

Fan, B.

Finkelmann, H.

J. Schmidtke, W. Stille, H. Finkelmann, and S.T. Kim, "Laser Emission in a Dye Doped Cholesteric Polymer Network," Adv. Mater. 14, 746 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Ganzke, D.

M. Ozaki, M. Kasano, D. Ganzke, W. Haase, and K. Yoshino, "Mirrorless Lasing in a Dye-Doped Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal," Adv. Mater. 14, 306 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Genack, A. Z.

Gouedard, C.

Haase, W.

M. Ozaki, M. Kasano, D. Ganzke, W. Haase, and K. Yoshino, "Mirrorless Lasing in a Dye-Doped Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal," Adv. Mater. 14, 306 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Heiderich, A.

B. A. van Tiggelen, R. Maynard, and A. Heiderich, "Anisotropic light diffusion in Oriented Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 639 (1996).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Ho, S. T.

H. Cao, Y. G. Zhao, S. T. Ho, E. W. Seelig, Q. H. Wang, and R. P. H. Chang, "Random Laser Action in Semiconductor Powder," Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 2278 (1999).
[CrossRef]

Husson, D.

Jeter, K. A.

M. H. Kao, K. A. Jeter, A. G. Yodh, P. J. Colling, "Observation of light diffusion and correlation transport in Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 2233 (1996).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Johnson, D. L.

H. K. Vithana, L. Asfaw, and D. L. Johnson, "Coherent backscattering of light in a nematic liquid crystal," Phys. Rev. Lett. 70, 3561 (1993).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Kao, M. H.

H. Stark Holger Stark, Ming H. Kao, Kristen A. Jester, T. C. Lubensky, Arjun G. Yodh, and Peter J. Collings, "Light diffusion and diffusing-wave spectroscopy in nematic liquid crystals," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 14, 156 (1997).
[CrossRef]

M. H. Kao, K. A. Jeter, A. G. Yodh, P. J. Colling, "Observation of light diffusion and correlation transport in Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 2233 (1996).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Kasano, M.

M. Ozaki, M. Kasano, D. Ganzke, W. Haase, and K. Yoshino, "Mirrorless Lasing in a Dye-Doped Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal," Adv. Mater. 14, 306 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Kim, S.T.

J. Schmidtke, W. Stille, H. Finkelmann, and S.T. Kim, "Laser Emission in a Dye Doped Cholesteric Polymer Network," Adv. Mater. 14, 746 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Kopp, V. I.

Lagendijk, A.

D. S. Wiersma and A. Lagendijk, "Light diffusion with gain and random lasers," Phys. Rev. E 54, 4256 (1997).
[CrossRef]

Letokhov, V. S.

V. S. Letokhov, "Quantum statistics of multiple- mode emission of an atomic ensemble," Sov. Phys.-JETP 26,1246 (1968).

Lubensky, T. C.

H. Stark and T. C. Lubensky, "Multiple Light Scattering in Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 2229 (1996).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Mahdi, M.

Markushev, V. M.

V. M. Markushev, V. F. Zolin and Ch. M. Briskina "Luminescence and stimulated emission of neodymium in sodium lanthanum molybdate powders," Sov. J. Quantum Electron. 16, 281 (1986).
[CrossRef]

Maynard, R.

B. A. van Tiggelen, R. Maynard, and A. Heiderich, "Anisotropic light diffusion in Oriented Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 639 (1996).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Migus, A.

Mujumdar, S.

R. Sapienza, S. Mujumdar, C. Cheung, A. G. Yodh, D. Wiersma, "Anisotropic weak localization of light," Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 033903 (2005).
[CrossRef]

Munoz, A.

W. Cao, A. Munoz, P. Palffy-Muhoray, and B. Taheri, "Lasing in a three-dimensional photonic crystal of the liquid crystal blue phase II," Nature Materials 1, 111 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Muzzi, A.

D. S. Wiersma, A. Muzzi, M. Colocci, R. Righini, "Time-resolved anisotropic multiple light scattering in Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 83, 4321 (1999).
[CrossRef]

Noginov, M. A.

Noginov, N. E.

Ostroumov, V.

Ozaki, M.

M. Ozaki, M. Kasano, D. Ganzke, W. Haase, and K. Yoshino, "Mirrorless Lasing in a Dye-Doped Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal," Adv. Mater. 14, 306 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Palffy-Muhoray, P.

W. Cao, A. Munoz, P. Palffy-Muhoray, and B. Taheri, "Lasing in a three-dimensional photonic crystal of the liquid crystal blue phase II," Nature Materials 1, 111 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Price, G. N.

G. Strangi, V. Barna, R. Caputo, A. De Luca, G. N. Price, C. Versace, N. Scaramuzza, C. Umeton, and R. Bartolino, "Color-Tunable Organic Microcavity Laser Array Using Distributed Feedback," Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 063903 (2005). (Editor’s choice for the 2005 Virtual J.Nanoscale Sci. Technol.,  11 (8), 2005).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Righini, R.

D. S. Wiersma, A. Muzzi, M. Colocci, R. Righini, "Time-resolved anisotropic multiple light scattering in Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 83, 4321 (1999).
[CrossRef]

Sapienza, R.

R. Sapienza, S. Mujumdar, C. Cheung, A. G. Yodh, D. Wiersma, "Anisotropic weak localization of light," Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 033903 (2005).
[CrossRef]

Sauteret, C.

Scaramuzza, N.

G. Strangi, V. Barna, R. Caputo, A. De Luca, G. N. Price, C. Versace, N. Scaramuzza, C. Umeton, and R. Bartolino, "Color-Tunable Organic Microcavity Laser Array Using Distributed Feedback," Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 063903 (2005). (Editor’s choice for the 2005 Virtual J.Nanoscale Sci. Technol.,  11 (8), 2005).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Schmidtke, J.

J. Schmidtke, W. Stille, H. Finkelmann, and S.T. Kim, "Laser Emission in a Dye Doped Cholesteric Polymer Network," Adv. Mater. 14, 746 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Seelig, E. W.

H. Cao, J. Y. Xu, E. W. Seelig, and R. P. H. Chang, "Microlaser made of disordered media," Appl. Phys. Lett.,  76, 2997 (2000).
[CrossRef]

H. Cao, Y. G. Zhao, S. T. Ho, E. W. Seelig, Q. H. Wang, and R. P. H. Chang, "Random Laser Action in Semiconductor Powder," Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 2278 (1999).
[CrossRef]

Stark, H.

H. Stark and T. C. Lubensky, "Multiple Light Scattering in Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 2229 (1996).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Stark Holger Stark, H.

Stille, W.

J. Schmidtke, W. Stille, H. Finkelmann, and S.T. Kim, "Laser Emission in a Dye Doped Cholesteric Polymer Network," Adv. Mater. 14, 746 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Strangi, G.

G. Strangi, V. Barna, R. Caputo, A. De Luca, G. N. Price, C. Versace, N. Scaramuzza, C. Umeton, and R. Bartolino, "Color-Tunable Organic Microcavity Laser Array Using Distributed Feedback," Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 063903 (2005). (Editor’s choice for the 2005 Virtual J.Nanoscale Sci. Technol.,  11 (8), 2005).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Taheri, B.

W. Cao, A. Munoz, P. Palffy-Muhoray, and B. Taheri, "Lasing in a three-dimensional photonic crystal of the liquid crystal blue phase II," Nature Materials 1, 111 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Thompson, T.

Umeton, C.

G. Strangi, V. Barna, R. Caputo, A. De Luca, G. N. Price, C. Versace, N. Scaramuzza, C. Umeton, and R. Bartolino, "Color-Tunable Organic Microcavity Laser Array Using Distributed Feedback," Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 063903 (2005). (Editor’s choice for the 2005 Virtual J.Nanoscale Sci. Technol.,  11 (8), 2005).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

van Tiggelen, B. A.

B. A. van Tiggelen, R. Maynard, and A. Heiderich, "Anisotropic light diffusion in Oriented Nematic Liquid Crystals," Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 639 (1996).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Venkateswarlu, P.

Versace, C.

G. Strangi, V. Barna, R. Caputo, A. De Luca, G. N. Price, C. Versace, N. Scaramuzza, C. Umeton, and R. Bartolino, "Color-Tunable Organic Microcavity Laser Array Using Distributed Feedback," Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 063903 (2005). (Editor’s choice for the 2005 Virtual J.Nanoscale Sci. Technol.,  11 (8), 2005).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Vithana, H. K.

H. K. Vithana, L. Asfaw, and D. L. Johnson, "Coherent backscattering of light in a nematic liquid crystal," Phys. Rev. Lett. 70, 3561 (1993).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Vithana, H. K.M.

Wang, Q. H.

H. Cao, Y. G. Zhao, S. T. Ho, E. W. Seelig, Q. H. Wang, and R. P. H. Chang, "Random Laser Action in Semiconductor Powder," Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 2278 (1999).
[CrossRef]

Wiersma, D.

R. Sapienza, S. Mujumdar, C. Cheung, A. G. Yodh, D. Wiersma, "Anisotropic weak localization of light," Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 033903 (2005).
[CrossRef]

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Figures (4)

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Schematic diagram of the experimental set-up: the picture shows the pump beam and the diffusive laser emission projected on the screen. Recurrent multiple light scattering in dye doped nematics provides the feedback for laser oscillations.

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Fluorescence and lasing spectra are reported. Discrete sharp peaks emerge from the residual spontaneous emission for pump energy of about 1.2 μJ/pulse. The inset shows the dependence of the lasing intensity on the angle θ between the linearly polarized light and the local nematic director orientation.

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Polar plot of the polarized fluorescence of the dye doped nematic sample. It is obtained by measuring the fluorescence intensity by analyzing the polarized emission at different angles about the local nematic director.

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

Light input-output curves for systems with different order degree are reported. The emission rate of ordered dye doped cholesterics with a periodic helical structure, disordered nanoparticles of ZnO dissolved in methanol solution and partially ordered nematic liquid crystals are compared.

Equations (1)

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S D = ( F F ) 1 2 1 ( F F ) 1 2 + 2

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