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Femtosecond laser system in nanolithography of crystals

It remains quite difficult to examine optical properties of materials that can be effectively used for development of advanced technologies in different fields of applications. The reason is challenging access to surface alteration that enhances new opportunities for light manipulation beyond already well-known optical properties.
Testing of optical properties is more difficult at nanoscale level. Even several decades of research did not make reliable in-depth optical characterization possible beyond the material surface. However, laser system lithography advances the optical properties research and allows etching a huge range of materials, as well as polymers, silicon, and even silica glass.
Now it is planned to extend 2D nanophotonic tools of high quality to 3D with the help of infrared femtosecond laser direct writing. Thus, this 3D technique will greatly change nonlinear optics and optical communication at the nanoscale level and even make the material manufacture more reliable.
Also, there is an alternative way that uses laser systems and micro-explosions inside crystals but this method has a lot of risks, such as lattice damage and crack propagation. Recently, a group of researchers proposed a novel way that has great potential is the creation of dense nanopores in the lattice using 3D laser system writing.
For the experiments, the researchers use a conventional 3D laser system writing with a ytterbium ultrafast fiber laser. The technique includes the following advantages:

  • required optical response due to nanophotonic element design and manufacture inside a crystal;
  • control possibility of properties, including pore size, filling fraction, direction and shape, nanopore lattice length thanks to the combination of 3D laser system writing and wet etching;
  • studying of both linear and circular laser beam polarizations.

Nevertheless, the proposed way is not ideal and 3-D photonic structures have some disadvantages:

  • their space isolation;
  • need for supporting walls;
  • shrinking and a low optical damage level.

Finally, the ability of lattice formation monitoring at the nanoscale level will be quite effective in practical photonic applications because it allows designing of compact, monolithic solid-state lasers.
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