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7 September 2011 Wavelength-tuneable liquid crystal lasers from the visible to the near-infrared
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The study of band-edge lasing from dye-doped chiral nematic liquid crystals has thus far been largely restricted to visible wavelengths. In this paper, a wide range of commercially available laser dyes are examined for their suitability as infrared emitters within a chiral nematic host. Problems such as poor solubility and reduced quantum efficiencies are overcome, and successful band-edge lasing is demonstrated within the range of 735-850 nm, using the dyes LD800, HITC-P and DOTC-P. This paper also reports on progress towards widely tuneable liquid crystal lasers, capable of emission in the region 460- 850 nm. Key to this is the use of common pump source, capable of simultaneously exciting all of the dyes (both infrared and visible) that are present within the system. Towards this aim, we successfully demonstrate near-infrared lasing (800 nm) facilitated by Förster energy transfer between the visible dye DCM, and the infra-red dye LD800, enabling pump wavelengths anywhere between 420 and 532 nm to be used. These results demonstrate that small and low-cost tuneable visible to near-infrared laser sources are achievable, using a single common pump source. Such devices are envisaged to have wide-ranging applications including medical imaging (including optical coherence tomography), point-of-care optical medical diagnostics (such as flow cytometry), telecommunications, and optical signatures for security coatings.
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P. J. W. Hands, C. A. Dobson, S. M. Morris, M. M. Qasim, D. J. Gardiner, T. D. Wilkinson, and H. J. Coles "Wavelength-tuneable liquid crystal lasers from the visible to the near-infrared", Proc. SPIE 8114, Liquid Crystals XV, 81140T (7 September 2011);

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