Flexible random laser from dye doped stretchable polymer film containing nematic liquid crystal
Researchers have found a way to make a laser that can be folded, stretched, and squeezed, and in doing so, not only maintains its lasing functionality, but also allows for control of its emission spectrum. The idea is based upon random lasing, realized in a flexible and anisotropic scattering material. Since random lasers use multiple scattering to define optical modes instead of a traditional laser cavity, they can be reshaped without problems. Anisotropic scattering is obtained using a nematic liquid crystal in the nematic phase. Reshaping the material influences the liquid crystal alignment and thereby modifies the emission spectrum of the laser. This can be done by stretching—as shown in the paper—or in future studies by an electric field. The results therefore constitute an important step forward towards the inclusion of laser light sources in flexible opto-electronic devices.