Controlling optical gain in semiconducting polymers with nanoscale chain positioning and alignment

Ignacio B. Martini*, Ian M. Craig, William C. Molenkamp, Hirokatsu Miyata, Sarah H. Tolbert, Benjamin J. Schwartz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


We control the chain conformation of a semiconducting polymer by encapsulating it within the aligned nanopores of a silica host. The confinement leads to polarized, low-threshold amplified spontaneous emission from the polymer chains. The polymer enters the porous silica film from only one face and the filling of the pores is therefore graded. As a result, the profile of the index of refraction in the film is also graded, in the direction normal to the pores, so that the composite film forms a low-loss, graded-index waveguide. The aligned polymer chains plus naturally formed waveguide are ideally configured for optical gain, with a threshold for amplified spontaneous emission that is twenty times lower than in comparable unoriented polymer films. Moreover, the optimal conditions for ASE are met in only one spatial orientation and with one polarization. The results show that nanometre-scale control of semiconducting polymer chain orientation and position leads to novel and desirable optical properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-652
Number of pages6
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Oct
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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