The demand of high resolution diffractive optical elements (DOE) is growing. Smaller critical dimensions allow higher deflection angles and can fulfill more demanding requirements, which can only be met by using electron-beam lithography. Replication techniques are more economical, since the high cost of the master can be distributed among a larger number of replicas. The lack of a suitable mold material for precision glass molding has so far prevented an industrial use. Glassy Carbon (GC) offers a high mechanical strength and high thermal strength. No anti-adhesion coatings are required in molding processes. This is clearly an advantage for high resolution, high aspect ratio microstructures, where a coating with a thickness between 10 nm and 200 nm would cause a noticeable rounding of the features. Electron-beam lithography was used to fabricate GC molds with highest precision and feature sizes from 250 nm to 2 μm. The master stamps were used for precision glass molding of a low Tg glass L-BAL42 from OHARA. The profile of the replicated glass is compared to the mold with the help of SEM images. This allows discussion of the max. aspect-ratio and min. feature size. To characterize optical performances, beamsplitting elements are fabricated and their characteristics were investigated, which are in excellent agreement to theory.
Replication techniques for diffractive optical elements (DOEs) in soft materials such as plastic injection molding are state of the art. For precision glass molding in glasses with high transition temperatures, molds with extreme thermal resistivity, low chemical reactivity and high mechanical strength are needed. Glassy Carbon can be operated up to 2000°C making it possible to mold almost all glasses including Fused Silica with a transition temperatures above 1060°C. For the structuring of Glassy Carbon wafers photolithography and a RIE process is used. We have developed a process using Si as a hard mask material. If the flow rates of the etching gases O2 and SF6 are chosen properly, high selectivity of GC to Si 19:1 can be achieved, which provides excellent conditions to realize high resolution elements with feature size down to 1 micron and fulfills requirements for optical applications. We fabricated several multilevel GC molds with 8 levels of structuring. Two different optical functionalities were implemented: 6x6 array beamsplitter and 1x4 linear beamsplitter. The molds were applied for precision glass molding of a low Tg glass L-BAL 42 (from Ohara) with a transition temperature of 565°C. Their optical performance was measured. A more detailed analysis of the impact of mold fabrication defects on optical performance is done. Rigorous coupled wave analysis simulations are performed, where we included fabrication constrains such as duty cycle, edge depth errors, wall verticality and misalignment errors. We will compare the results with the design specifications and discuss the influence of fabrication errors introduced during the different process steps.
A consumer market for diffractive optical elements in glass can only be created if high efficient elements are available at affordable prices. In diffractive optics the efficiency and optical properties increases with the number of levels used, but in the same way the costs are multiplied by the number if fabrication steps. Replication of multilevel diffractive optical elements in glass would allow cost efficient fabrication but a suitable mold material is needed. Glassy carbon shows a high mechanical strength, thermal stability and non-sticking adhesion properties, which makes it an excellent candidate as mold material for precision compression molding of low and high glass-transition temperature materials. We introduce an 8 level micro structuring process for glassy carbon molds with standard photolithography and a Ti layer as hard mask for reactive ion etching. The molds were applied to thermal imprinting onto low and high transition temperature glass. Optical performance was tested for the molded samples with different designs for laser beamsplitters. The results show a good agreement to the design specification. Our result allow us to show limitations of our fabrication technique and we discussed the suitability of precision glass molding for cost efficient mass production with a high quality.
Glassy carbon is used nowadays for a variety of applications because of its mechanical strength, thermal stability and non-sticking adhesion properties. This makes it also a suitable candidate as mold material for precision compression molding of low and high glass-transition temperature materials. To fabricate molds for diffractive optics a highresolution structuring technique is needed. We introduce a process that allows the micro-structuring of glassy carbon by reactive ion etching. Key parameters such as uniformity, surface roughness, edge definition and lateral resolution are discussed. They are the most relevant parameters for a stamp in optical applications. The use of titanium as a hard mask makes it possible to achieve a reasonable selectivity of 4:1, which has so far been one of the main problems in microstructuring of glassy carbon. We investigate the titanium surface structure with its 5-10 nm thick layer of TiO2 grains and its influence on the shape of the hard mask. In our fabrication procedure we were able to realize optically flat diffractive structures with slope angles of more than 80° at typical feature sizes of 5 μm and at 700 nm depth. The fabricated glassy carbon molds were applied to thermal imprinting onto different glasses. Glassy carbon molds with 1 mm thickness were tested with binary optical structures. Our experiments show the suitability of glassy carbon as molds for cost efficient mass production with a high quality.
Glassy carbon is used nowadays for a variety of applications because of its mechanical strength, thermal stability and
non-sticking adhesion properties. One application is glass molding that allows to realize high resolution diffractive
optical elements on large areas and at affordable price appropriate for mass production. We study glassy carbon microstructuring
for future precision compression molding of low and high glass-transition temperature. For applications in
optics the uniformity, surface roughness, edge definition and lateral resolution are very important parameters for a stamp
and the final product. We study different methods of microstructuring of glassy carbon by etching and milling. Reactive
ion etching with different protection layers such as photoresists, aluminium and titanium hard masks have been
performed and will be compare with Ion beam etching. We comment on the quality of the structure definition and give
process details as well as drawbacks for the different methods. In our fabrications we were able to realize optically flat
diffractive structures with slope angles of 80° at typical feature sizes of 5 micron and 700 nm depth qualified for high
precision glass molding.