Polymer multilayer photonic micro- and nanostructures with tailored spectral properties

Amazing and beautiful optical effects are present in Nature. Some examples are the iridescent colors produced by peacocks, butterflies and beetles. While the simulations of some of these structures have already been realized, only a few elements have been fabricated. We are interested to understand and to reproduce some of these amazing optical properties. Applications such as security or decorative elements in different fields like jewelery or horology can be imagined. SEM pictures of the structure of these animals show a frequent combination of periodic or pseudo-periodic elements such as interference filters, multilayer reflectors, microlenses and gratings. The different elements combine angular and spectral effects. This combination enables strong optical effects for a large range of viewing angles and spectra. Different technologies such as standard photolithography, recording of interference patterns, transfer of photoresist structures in glass substrates, replications, hot embossing and spincoating were used to fabricate a variety of optical elements. The fabricated elements were produced with polymer materials because of their ease of use, and the possibility to build multilevel structures with replication methods. A drawback is the small refractive index difference possible between polymers and compared to air. In the first part, different combinations of polymer micro- and nano-optical elements such as corrugated gratings, multilayer Bragg reflectors, microlens arrays, micro-prisms arrays and diffusers were successfully fabricated. Poly (vinyl alcohol) and poly (N-vinycarbazole) with refractive indices of 1.56 and 1.72, respectively, at a wavelength of 500nm were used to fabricate the polymer multilayer reflectors. The micro-optical elements used were: microlenses with diameter between 32 μm and 250 μm and around 20 μm height; prisms with 50 μm period and 25 μm height. The angularly dependent reflectivity of the different fabricated elements was studied. Thanks to the close combination of diffractive, refractive and reflective micro- and nano-optical elements, non-standard artificial visual color effects were produced. The fabricated elements were modeled with different tools according to the dimensions of the different optical elements. Ray tracing analysis was used in the case with micro-optical elements while the Fourier modal method permitted simulation of the interaction of the light with the periodic nano-structures. The specific effects of the variation of the different parameters were highlighted, the basic principles and the limitation of the polymer technology were identified. In the second part, the optical modeling tools and the fabrication technologies developed were used to model and fabricate polymer light emitting diodes in a distributed feedback regime. The optical properties of the different layers were modeled and the physical dimensions of elements with active conductive polymers me-LPPP and F8 were calculated, fabricated and tested. The sensitive dimensions and parameters were underlined. Polymer materials permitted rapid fabrication of complex and innovative optical elements with very simple technologies like spin-coating and replication methods. These technologies allow the combination of nano-optical elements with dimensions of the order of a hundred nanometers with micro-optical elements with dimension of the order of about ten to one hundred microns.

Herzig, Hans Peter
Institut de Microtechnique, Université de Neuchâtel

 Record created 2011-03-30, last modified 2018-03-17

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