Optofluidic gradient refractive index resonators using liquid diffusion for tunable unidirectional emission†
Resonators have been used in a wide range of fields, such as biochemical detection and microscale lasers. In recent years, optofluidic resonators have attracted a significant amount of attention owing to their unique liquid environments. Liquids containing biochemical samples can be designed to pass through the ring resonators or to directly form droplets, for sample sensing. Liquid diffusion is an important property in optofluidic applications, such as gradient refractive index lenses and waveguides. However, liquid diffusion has not been used in the study of optofluidic resonators, for both possible sensing characteristics, and unidirectional emission that is mostly acted as light sources. Here, we introduce a gradient refractive index profile formed by liquid diffusion in annular channels into a circular resonator, forming a gradient-index resonator with a tunable unidirectional emission. For both simulations and experiments, the squeezed and non-rotationally symmetrical light intensity profile was first obtained in a circular resonator. The squeezed light profile enables unidirectional emission in circular resonators, which is difficult to achieve in conventional ones. The squeezed light profile and unidirectional emission are determined by the refractive index difference of the liquids used, the dimension of the circular channels, and the working wavelengths. In experiments, different dimensions of bending radii were demonstrated and a tunable squeezed light intensity profile and unidirectional emission were exhibited. Interestingly, the squeezed coefficient of light, which was about 1.8 for a bending radius of 100 μm, enabled emission with a divergence angle as small as 14 degrees, which could be used for laser emission applications in the future. This work reveals the significant potential of the novel liquid gradient refractive index resonator, which provides a practicable approach for optofluidic resonator emission applications and also has potential for use in optofluidic sensing based on the squeezed light profile.