It is well established by manufacturers and users that optical coatings are generally prepared by the well known Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) technology. In the authors' opinion sol-gel technology is an effective and competitive alternative. The aim of this paper is to emphasize on the sol-gel thin film work carried out at CEA Limeil-Valenton and concerning the technology for high power lasers. We will briefly discuss the chemistry of the sol-gel process, the production of optical coatings and the related deposition techniques. Finally, the paper describes performance of sol-gel optical coatings we have developed to fulfill the requirements of a future 1.8 MJ I500TW (351 nm) pulsed Nd:glass laser so-called << LMJ << (Laser MegaJoules). This powerful laser is to be used for our national Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program, to demonstrate at the laboratory scale, ignition of deuterium-tritium fusion fuel. Moreover, the aim of this article is, hopefully, to provide a convincing argument that coatings and particularly optical coatings, are some of the useful products available from sol-gel technology, and that exciting developments in other areas than high power laser technology are almost certain to emerge within the coming decade.
Keywords : sol-gel, oxides, colloidal suspensions, optical coatings, laser damage