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DNA Self-Switchable Microlaser

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journal contribution
posted on 02.11.2020, 16:34 by Yifan Zhang, Xuerui Gong, Zhiyi Yuan, Wenjie Wang, Yu-Cheng Chen
Advances in switchable microlasers have emerged as a building block with immense potential in controlling light–matter interactions and integrated photonics. Compared to artificially designed interfaces, a stimuli-responsive biointerface enables a higher level of functionalities and versatile ways of tailoring optical responses at the nanoscale. However, switching laser emission with biological recognition has yet to be addressed, particularly with reversibility and wavelength tunability over a broad spectral range. Here we demonstrate a self-switchable laser exploiting the biointerface between label-free DNA molecules and dye-doped liquid crystal matrix in a Fabry–Perot microcavity. Laser emission switching among different wavelengths was achieved by utilizing DNA conformation changes as the switching power, which alters the orientation of the liquid crystals. Our findings demonstrate that different concentrations of single-stranded DNA lead to different temporal switching of lasing wavelengths and intensities. The lasing wavelength could be reverted upon binding with the complementary sequence through DNA hybridization process. Both experimental and theoretical studies revealed that absorption strength is the key mechanism accounting for the laser shifting behavior. This study represents a milestone in achieving a biologically controlled laser, shedding light on the development of programmable photonic devices at the sub-nanoscale by exploiting the complexity and self-recognition of biomolecules.