Femtosecond Laser – All-Glass, Miniaturized Design

Researchers’ creation of a palm-sized, all-glass femtosecond laser cavity has opened a new path toward free-space femtosecond lasers. Its design defies standard procedures because of its exact component alignment and downsizing.

The innovation consists of micromachining a holder for optical components and separating flexural elements into a glass substrate using a commercial femtosecond laser. Using the same commercial source, the mounted components can be precisely adjusted by non-contact means. A femtosecond laser is utilized to create another femtosecond laser for precise alignment and tuning and to create substrates.

The two-year study detailed the fundamentals of the two-step manufacturing procedure, and the new technique builds upon that research. To embed the necessary laser components in a glass substrate, a commercial femtosecond laser first etches slots into the material, but not precisely enough for the final lasing operation. In addition, this first action prepares the substrate’s leaf-sprung flexure mechanisms for a subsequent positioning operation.

To permanently deform the flexure mechanisms in a controlled manner and bring the optical components into the ultimate perfect alignment, the second step is initiated by exposing the system to the same commercial femtosecond source once again. The commercial foresees various uses, including as a key element in high-power laser systems, a light source for cutting-edge microscopy, a tool to aid in discovering novel medications, and a key element in time-keeping systems for satellite navigation.

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