Microfluidic directional emission control of an azimuthally polarized radial fibre laser


Lasers with cylindrically symmetric polarization states are predominantly based on whispering-gallery modes1,2,3,4,5,6,7, characterized by high angular momentum and dominated by azimuthal emission. Here, a zero-angular-momentum laser with purely radial emission is demonstrated. An axially invariant, cylindrical photonic-bandgap fibre cavity8 filled with a microfluidic gain medium plug is axially pumped, resulting in a unique radiating field pattern characterized by cylindrical symmetry and a fixed polarization pointed in the azimuthal direction. Encircling the fibre core is an array of electrically contacted and independently addressable liquid-crystal microchannels embedded in the fibre cladding. These channels modulate the polarized wavefront emanating from the fibre core, leading to a laser with a dynamically controlled intensity distribution spanning the full azimuthal angular range. This new capability, implemented monolithically within a single fibre, presents opportunities ranging from flexible multidirectional displays to minimally invasive directed light delivery systems for medical applications.

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Figure 1: Comparison of radial and whispering-gallery modes.
Figure 2: Preform and fibre structure.
Figure 3: Microfluidic laser system.
Figure 4: Laser characterization.
Figure 5: Azimuthally controlled laser emission.


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A.M.S. is grateful to F. Capasso, A.F. Abouraddy, H. Stone, Z. Wang, D. Shemuly, S. Danto, D. Deng, Z. Ruff, N. Orf and A. Nemiroski for fruitful discussions. The authors thank M. Stolyar for his help in engineering the first rapid prototype version of the fluidic/optical-fibre coupler, and A. Gallant at the MIT Central Machine Shop for producing the final version. J. Ryvkina is credited for the artwork in Supplementary Fig. S2. A.M.S. acknowledges support from the US National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. L.W. acknowledges support from the Technical University of Denmark. This work was supported in part by the Materials Research Science and Engineering Program of the US National Science Foundation (award no. DMR-0819762) and also in part by the US Army Research Office through the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (contract no. W911NF-07-D-0004).

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A.M.S., L.W. and O.S. planned the experiments. A.M.S. and L.W performed the experiments. A.M.S., L.W. and F.S. designed the fibre structures. A.M.S. and L.W. fabricated the fibres. O.S. and S.L.C. carried out simulations. A.M.S., L.W., O.S., F.S., Y.F. and J.D.J. conceived the ideas. A.M.S., J.D.J. and Y.F. co-wrote the manuscript. J.D.J. and Y.F. supervised the research. All authors analysed the data.

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Correspondence to Yoel Fink.

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Stolyarov, A., Wei, L., Shapira, O. et al. Microfluidic directional emission control of an azimuthally polarized radial fibre laser. Nature Photon 6, 229–233 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2012.24

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