From the manufacturing process stand point, the fused silica can be categorized to four types: type Ⅰ, type Ⅱ, type Ⅲ, and type Ⅳ. The fused silica of type Ⅰand type Ⅱ is made through melting silica sand in graphite furnace or oxyhydrogen flame. There are many defects in these types of fused silica, for example, the air bubbles, inclusions and metallic impurity. The other two types are made by synthetic reaction of SiCl4 with water in oxyhydrogen or plasma flame. Both type Ⅲ and Ⅳ have excellent performance in transmittance and internal quality. However, type Ⅳof fused silica has disadvantage in small aperture and overall high manufacturing cost.
Take the transmittance and internal quality into consideration, the type Ⅲ fused silica is the most suitable for large-aperture lens, and can withstand high power laser. The systemic studies of manufacturing process were done to improve the performance of type Ⅲ fused silica in various areas, for instance, the optical homogeneity, the stress birefringence, the absorption coefficient and the damage threshold. There are four steps in manufacturing process of type Ⅲ fused silica, ingot production, reshaping, annealing and cold-working. The critical factors of ingot production, like the flame of burner and the structure of furnace, were deeply studied in this paper to improve the performance of fused silica.
On the basis of the above research, the performance and quality of the fused silica measured up to advanced world levels. For instance, the result of optical homogeneity can be controlled to 2～5 ppm, the stress birefringence is better than 4 nm/cm, the absorption coefficient is about 5.971ppm cm-1 (1ω), the damage threshold is greater than 80, 25 and 23 J/cm2 with the wavelength at 1064, 532 and 351nm respectively, the bandwidth used for measuring is 3ns.The fused silica has already been used in the area of high power laser facilities, aerospace industry, primary lens of interferometer based on its excellent performance.