We study theoretically and experimentally spectral and polarization characteristics of hybrid systems of VCSELs integrated within liquid crystal (LC) cells. Three cases are considered: Nematic or cholesteric LC on top of VCSEL, coupled-cavity system with the second cavity next to the VCSEL’s one filled in with nematic LC and a system with a nematic LC inside the VCSEL cavity. For the case of nematic liquid crystal - VCSEL coupled cavity system we demonstrate selection between two orthogonal directions of linear polarization of the fundamental mode by changing the LC length or by electro-optical tuning of the LC director. For the case of cholesteric liquid crystal-VCSEL system we demonstrate lasing on circularly polarized (CP) modes due to the LC band gap for CP light. The transition from nematic to isotropic phase of the LC when increasing temperature leads to a drastic change of the polarization of the generated light from left-handed circular to linear polarization. Finally, we investigate the possibility of efficient wavelength tuning by utilizing electrooptical effect in nematic LC layer integrated next to the active region in a VCSEL cavity.
We have developed a technology to integrate a thin layer of liquid crystal (LC) on top of a Vertical-Cavity Surface- Emitting Laser (VCSEL). Based on this technology, we demonstrate VCSELs with a chiral liquid crystal (CLC) layer, which acts as a tuneable mirror. The reflection properties of the CLC layer are controlled by temperature. Next we demonstrate VCSEL devices with tuneable external cavity using a nematic LC layer incorporated with an additional dielectric mirror (SiO<sub>2</sub>/Ta<sub>2</sub>O<sub>5</sub>). The VCSEL and the LC layer can be electrically driven independently and the optical length in the external cavity can be tuned by the applied voltage on the LC layer. In both configurations we show that the emission properties of the VCSEL can be changed, in terms of emission wavelength, polarization state and/or lasing threshold.
We study theoretically the spectral and polarization threshold characteristics of Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers with nematic and cholesteric liquid crystal overlay: LC-VCSELs. In the first case, we demonstrate the possibility of selecting between two orthogonal directions of linear polarization (LP) of the fundamental mode (x or y LP) by choosing appropriate NLC length and to achieve strong polarization discrimination: threshold gain difference as large as several times the threshold gain. We also demonstrate an active control of light polarization by electro-optically tuning the LC director and show that either polarization switching between x and y LP modes or continuous change of the LP direction is possible. For cholesteric LC-VCSEL we show that it becomes a coupled system with different spectral, threshold and polarization characteristics than the ones of the stand-alone VCSEL. Due to the existence of a band gap for circularly polarized light in the liquid crystal, lasing occurs in almost circularly polarized modes at the LC side.
A technological platform for a vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) with tunable polarization is presented. It is realized by integrating an 850nm VCSEL chip in a liquid crystal (LC) cell that uses photo-alignment (PA) to orient the LC. Two kinds of LC are filled in and form a thin layer over the emitter of the VCSEL: nematic LC or chiral nematic LC (cLC). The VCSEL and the nematic LC layer can be electrically driven with separate electrodes. The polarization state of the laser emission can be controlled by applying an appropriate voltage over the nematic LC layer. The chiral nematic LC has a reflection band that contains the VCSEL emission wavelength, so that one circular polarized mode of the laser emission is reflected as a feedback into the VCSEL. We found that the emission from the VCSEL with cLC overlay is circularly polarized.
We developed an in- house technology to overlay liquid crystal (LC) on top of a 850nm Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting
Laser (VCSEL) creating a so-called LC-VCSEL. Prior to this, the effect of the cell thickness on the planar alignment of
the E7 LC is investigated. It is observed that the LC orientation is planar, uniformly aligned over the whole cell with an
average pre-tilt of 22.5<sup>0</sup> in a thin a cell of 13μm thickness; such alignment uniformity is not observed in a thick cell of
125μm. Nevertheless, several domains of good uniformity are still present. Further, the polarization resolved LI
characteristics of LC-VCSEL are investigated with and without the insertion of LC in a cell glued directly onto VCSEL
package. Before filling in the LC, the VCSEL emits linearly polarized light and this linear polarization is lost after LC
filling. The output intensity as a function of polarizer angle shows partial planar alignment of the E7 LC, which is very
important for the further advancement of the LC-VCSEL integrated system.