Low threshold organic semiconductor lasers and their application as explosive sensors
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This thesis presents studies of organic semiconductor lasers, including their operation when pumped by a light-emitting diode (LED), and their application as explosive sensors. The photophysics and amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) of star-shaped oligofluorene truxene molecules were investigated. These materials exhibit high gain and low optical loss in thin-film waveguides. Low ASE thresholds were achieved with the truxene T3 and T4. Second-order distributed feedback (DFB) lasers were fabricated, with pump threshold intensities below 0.5 kW/cm² and broad tunability of the emission. DFB lasers were demonstrated with a novel polymer BBEHP-PPV, pumped by a pulsed commercial InGaN LED. The laser emission occurred at 533 nm for peak drive current above 15 A. The output beams and pulse-dynamics of the lasers were investigated for the first time, along with a 'double-threshold' phenomenon that was observed in this long-pulse pumping regime. BBEHP-PPV lasers based on various types of diffractive resonators were also fabricated by UV nanoimprint-lithography (NIL). By optimising the resonator design and the fabrication, and the pump-beam geometry, polymer laser thresholds of ~60 W/cm², the lowest recorded for NIL lasers, were demonstrated, enabling them to be pumped by pulsed commercial LEDs and custom micro-LED arrays. One promising application of organic lasers is in explosive sensing. A polymer of intrinsic microporosity (PIM-1) was used to detect nitroaromatic vapours. Rapid detection of dinitrobenzene (DNB) of low vapour pressure was achieved by monitoring the photoluminescence and laser emission during exposure. In addition, a CMOS time-resolved fluorescence lifetime microsystem with a commercial green-emitting copolymer was used as a novel, portable sensor to detect DNB vapour. An InGaN LED pumped BBEHP-PPV laser was also used as a miniature sensor to detect 10 ppb of DNB. These highly sensitive hybrid sensors could be used in humanitarian demining, complementing existing technologies leading to improvement in the detection of hazardous objects.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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