Direct femtosecond laser inscription in transparent dielectrics


Since 1996 direct femtosecond inscription in transparent dielectrics has become the subject of intensive research. This enabling technology significantly expands the technological boundaries for direct fabrication of 3D structures in a wide variety of materials. It allows modification of non-photosensitive materials, which opens the door to numerous practical applications. In this work we explored the direct femtosecond inscription of waveguides and demonstrated at least one order of magnitude enhancement in the most critical parameter - the induced contrast of the refractive index in a standard borosilicate optical glass. A record high induced refractive contrast of 2.5×10-2 is demonstrated. The waveguides fabricated possess one of the lowest losses, approaching level of Fresnel reflection losses at the glassair interface. High refractive index contrast allows the fabrication of curvilinear waveguides with low bend losses. We also demonstrated the optimisation of the inscription regimes in BK7 glass over a broad range of experimental parameters and observed a counter-intuitive increase of the induced refractive index contrast with increasing translation speed of a sample. Examples of inscription in a number of transparent dielectrics hosts using high repetition rate fs laser system (both glasses and crystals) are also presented. Sub-wavelength scale periodic inscription inside any material often demands supercritical propagation regimes, when pulse peak power is more than the critical power for selffocusing, sometimes several times higher than the critical power. For a sub-critical regime, when the pulse peak power is less than the critical power for self-focusing, we derive analytic expressions for Gaussian beam focusing in the presence of Kerr non-linearity as well as for a number of other beam shapes commonly used in experiments, including astigmatic and ring-shaped ones. In the part devoted to the fabrication of periodic structures, we report on recent development of our point-by-point method, demonstrating the shortest periodic perturbation created in the bulk of a pure fused silica sample, by using third harmonics (? =267 nm) of fundamental laser frequency (? =800 nm) and 1 kHz femtosecond laser system. To overcome the fundamental limitations of the point-by-point method we suggested and experimentally demonstrated the micro-holographic inscription method, which is based on using the combination of a diffractive optical element and standard micro-objectives. Sub-500 nm periodic structures with a much higher aspect ratio were demonstrated. From the applications point of view, we demonstrate examples of photonics devices by direct femtosecond fabrication method, including various vectorial bend-sensors fabricated in standard optical fibres, as well as a highly birefringent long-period gratings by direct modulation method. To address the intrinsic limitations of femtosecond inscription at very shallow depths we suggested the hybrid mask-less lithography method. The method is based on precision ablation of a thin metal layer deposited on the surface of the sample to create a mask. After that an ion-exchange process in the melt of Ag-containing salts allows quick and low-cost fabrication of shallow waveguides and other components of integrated optics. This approach covers the gap in direct fs inscription of shallow waveguide. Perspectives and future developments of direct femtosecond micro-fabrication are also discussed.

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Institution: Aston University
Uncontrolled Keywords: direct femtosecond inscription
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2023 08:40
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2013 09:57
Completed Date: 2011-08-16
Authors: Dubov, Mykhaylo


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