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17 February 2017 Towards optical quality micro-optic fabrication by direct laser writing and chemical etching
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Here we demonstrate the use of an advanced microfabrication technique, known as ultrafast laser inscription (ULI) with chemical etching, optimised for the fabrication of micro-optic systems in fused silica. ULI is a precision laser micromachining tool which relies on the high peak intensities associated with focused femtosecond pulses of light to locally modify the structure of a dielectric material. One manifestation of this modification is that the etch-rate of the modified regions can be increased by up to two orders of magnitude compared to that of pristine material, depending on the specific ULI parameters and the chemical etchant used. This capability means that ULI facilitates the repeatable fabrication of three-dimensional freeform structures in glass with micrometre resolution. Firstly, we present the results of investigations aimed at optimising the fabrication process and show that by controlling the laser polarisation during inscription, an etch-rate selectivity of 100 and a fivefold decrease in surface roughness can be achieved. We then demonstrate the characterisation of a microlens fabricated with optimum inscription parameters, including measurements of the lens surface profile, surface roughness and throughput, before demonstrating that the local surface roughness can be further decreased to below 5 nanometres by post-manufacture flame polishing.
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Calum Ross, David G. MacLachlan, Debaditya Choudhury, and Robert R. Thomson "Towards optical quality micro-optic fabrication by direct laser writing and chemical etching", Proc. SPIE 10094, Frontiers in Ultrafast Optics: Biomedical, Scientific, and Industrial Applications XVII, 100940V (17 February 2017);

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