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One-pot synthesis of polymer/inorganic hybrids: toward readily accessible, low-loss, and highly tunable refractive index materials and patterns

Authors

  • Manuela Russo,

    1. Department of Materials, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland
    2. Department of Materials and Centre for Plastic Electronics, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ London, United Kingdom
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  • Mariano Campoy-Quiles,

    1. Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), Esfera UAB, Bellaterra 08193, Spain
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  • Paul Lacharmoise,

    1. Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), Esfera UAB, Bellaterra 08193, Spain
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  • Toby A. M. Ferenczi,

    1. Department of Materials and Centre for Plastic Electronics, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ London, United Kingdom
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  • Miquel Garriga,

    1. Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), Esfera UAB, Bellaterra 08193, Spain
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  • Walter R. Caseri,

    1. Department of Materials, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland
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  • Natalie Stingelin

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Materials, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland
    2. Department of Materials and Centre for Plastic Electronics, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ London, United Kingdom
    3. School of Soft Matter Research, FRIAS, University of Freiburg, 79104 Freiburg, Germany
    • Department of Materials, ETH Zurich, Zurich 8093, Switzerland
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Abstract

The realization that modulated light pulses can be transported in a confined fashion over long distances within a structure that comprises a controlled spatial distribution of the refractive index n—as in optical fibres and waveguides—has, without doubt, underpinned the telecommunications revolution witnessed during the 20th century. The refractive index n, quantifying how light propagates in a given medium, as a consequence, has become one of the most important materials properties in designing photonics products. The other key characteristic for most optical and photonic applications is the amount of light that is absorbed by a material, expressed as the extinction coefficient κ. Although a range of organic/inorganic hybrid materials have been advanced with tunable refractive index, only a few systems combine a high n, sufficiently low κ and straightforward sample preparation to allow simple fabrication of highly transparent, low-loss structures. Here, we present a hybrid material that can be readily produced in water via a one-pot synthesis directly from commercially available, low-cost precursors. Moreover, our hybrid material can be solution-processed, yielding systems of an extinction coefficient <0.01, and a refractive index, which can be controlled to adopt values between 1.5 to at least 2.1. Unprecedentedly, simple post-deposition procedures such as thermal annealing or irradiation with high-intensity UV-light allow adjusting n also after film fabrication, offering an exceptional degree of freedom in designing and tailoring also more complex photonic architectures or planar wave-guides, for example, through creation of in-plane refractive index patterns. As a proof-of-concept, we demonstrate fabrication of waveguides based on local heating. The versatility of our materials is further illustrated by the production of lenses and dielectric filters of ∼100% reflectivity in a given wavelength regime. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 000: 000–000, 2011

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