A method for Fabricating Optical waveguides and other Optical Devices in Three D

Summary This invention describes a method to directly write optical elements in three dimensions inside a transparent material using an unamplified femtosecond laser. Ultrashort pulses from a laser oscillator are tightly focused into the material, causing localized heating and subsequently producing refractive index changes in the bulk of the material.

Applications The present invention uses an unamplified femtosecond laser oscillator to write waveguides or other optical devices by creation of a point source of heat inside a transparent material. Use of an unamplified laser significantly reduces equipment costs, while making the process more reliable and simpler to use. Furthermore, use of a laser oscillator allows much higher machining speeds than are attainable with amplified lasers.

The mechanism of heat-induced refractive index change enables the micromachinist to exploit cumulative thermal effects; as more light pulses are applied to a single point, the volume of material with elevated temperature increases, thereby increasing the volume of material with an altered refractive index. The operator can therefore determine the size of each feature, as opposed to previous techniques in which the feature size was determined by the focal point of the laser. No other technique allows for such precise deposition of energy in such small volumes in bulk material.

As the use of broadband transmission through fiber-optic networks in telecommunications increases, the need for smaller precision processing devices for optical signaling will increase. Since this method can be applied to virtually any micromachining task performed inside the bulk of a material, it may carry major implications for manufacturing of optoelectronic devices for the future. For Further Information Please Contact the Director of Business Development Alan Gordon Email: alan_gordon@harvard.edu Telephone: (617) 384-5000

Inventor(s): Schaffer, Chris B.

Type of Offer: Licensing

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