This paper reports on a range of SLM applications we have studied in femtosecond processing of transparent glasses and thin films. Laser phase-fronts were tailored by the SLM to compensate for spherical surface aberration, and to further address the nonlinear interactions that interplay between Kerr-lens self-focusing and plasma defocusing effects over shallow and deep focusing inside the glass. Limits of strong and weak focusing were examined around the respective formation of low-loss optical waveguides and long uniform filament tracks. Further, we have employed the SLM for beam patterning inside thin film, exploring the limits of phase noise, resolution and fringe contrast during interferometric intra-film structuring.
Femtosecond laser pulses of 200 fs pulse duration and 515 nm wavelength were shaped by a phase-only LCOS-SLM (Hamamatsu X10468-04). By imposing radial phase profiles, axicon, grating and beam splitting gratings, volume shape control of filament diameter, length, and uniformity as well as simultaneous formation of multiple filaments has been demonstrated. Similarly, competing effects of spherical surface aberration, self-focusing, and plasma de-focusing were studied and delineated to enable formation of low-loss optical waveguides over shallow and deep focusing conditions.
Lastly, SLM beam shaping has been successfully extended to interferometric processing inside thin transparent film, enabling the arbitrary formation of uniform or non-uniform, symmetric or asymmetric patterns of flexible shape on nano-scale dimensions without phase-noise degradation by the SLM patterning. We present quantized structuring of thin films by a single laser pulse, demonstrating λ/2nfilm layer ejection control, blister formation, nano-cavities, and film colouring. Closed intra-film nanochannels with high aspect ratio (20:1) have been formed inside 3.5 um thick silica, opening new prospects for sub-cellular studies and lab-in-film concepts that integrate on CMOS silicon technologies.