• sol–gel hybrid polymer;
  • photopolymerization, distributed feedback grating;
  • polymer dye laser;
  • photopumped laser

The application of hybrid polymer precursor gel for distributed feedback (DFB) grating laser fabricated by short-pulse laser interference has been investigated. The precursor gel was prepared by sol–gel process from siloxane-modified methacrylate monomer. The molecular structure characterization results show the formation of inorganic networks within the precursor gel, which further undergoes the formation of organic–inorganic polymer network by photopolymerization. The laser interference was performed by using the frequency-tripled output of nanosecond Nd–YAG laser. The fabricated DFB gratings exhibit photopumped lasing actions with high consistency between the grating periodicity (between 380 and 1030 nm) and the lasing wavelength, which appears at the wavelength of the second-order Bragg reflection. The atomic force microcopy measurements clearly show the formation of surface relief (corrugated) structure in those gratings. The mechanism of surface relief formation is attributed to a fast photo-induced swelling process, which is unique property belonging to this kind of hybrid polymer precursor gel. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.