Following the trend of organic electronics, lasers can now also be produced with inkjet technology.The process, which impresses with simplicity, you can create lasers on virtually any surface, rigid or flexible.In principle, this technique can even be applied using existing equipment, such as those used by the printing industry.
These “organic lasers” promise to create new applications, lower the cost of existing, and develop new technologies for telecommunications, biomedical examinations and even the long awaited Laser TV.“These lasers can be used for numerous applications in displays, monitors and lighting. Either they can encode information by turning any surface into a ‘smart surface’,” said Dr. Damian Gardiner, University of Cambridge, UK.
To work, a laser – a very pure form of light, which occupies a narrow frequency range, or color – need a light emitter and a cavity that light can be reflected repeatedly between two mirrors.
In this reflection, photons interact with the material serving as amplifying means, generating new copies of themselves while the light is amplified.
Finally, the photons waveforms synchronized with leaky mirror cavity to form the laser beam.
To make it possible to print a laser, the researchers had to get rid of the most complicated part of this structure: a cavity formed by two mirrors precisely aligned.
For this they used chiral nematic liquid crystals, similar to the material used to make screens and monitors , the known LCDs ( Liquid Crystal Display ).
When precisely aligned, the structures of the screw-shaped liquid crystal molecules operate as a resonant optical cavity, replacing the mirrors.
The liquid crystal was printed onto a polymer layer, similar to that used by students white glue which also is liquid and can be applied by printing.The amplifier means is a fluorescent dye, and also applicable as liquid ink.Finally, the entire structure is covered with another layer of the initial polymer.
When the polymer dries, the chemical interaction forces and the mechanical tension liquid crystal molecules to align themselves by creating laser printed without requiring any additional step.How common equipment used only in the laboratory, as an inkjet printer adapted, the researchers believe the technique can be applied to any type of printing equipment, including industrial printer, which will greatly facilitate the adoption of the technique.
Lasers for all
Researchers claim to have developed the process keeping in mind the manufacture of compact laser sources and adjustable to create high-resolution screens.However, the technique proved to be so simple that it can be used to print precise light sources in biochips , used extensively in biological research and medicine, and promise examinations complex health at home and getting results on time.
In a similar result, and possibly synergistic, U.S. researchers recently demonstrated that it is possible to make a living structure emit laser beams.Indeed, the ability to print on any surface miniaturized lasers makes the application possibilities of the new technique only limited by imagination, say British scientists.