Manish Trivedi, Dhruv Saxena, Wai Kit Ng, Riccardo Sapienza & Giorgio Volpe
Non-equilibrium assemblies, where units are able to harness available energy to perform tasks, can often self-organize into dynamic materials that uniquely blend structure with functionality and responsiveness to their environment. The integration of similar features in photonic materials remains challenging but is desirable to manufacture active, adaptive and autonomous photonic devices. Here we show the self-organization of programmable random lasers from the reversible out-of-equilibrium self-assembly of colloids. The random lasing originates from the optical amplification of light undergoing multiple scattering within the dissipative colloidal assemblies and therefore depends crucially on their self-organization behaviour. Under external light stimuli, these dynamic random lasers are responsive and present a continuously tuneable laser threshold. They can therefore reconfigure and cooperate by emulating the ever-evolving spatiotemporal relationship between structure and functionality that is typical of many non-equilibrium assemblies.