The project is focused around the use of ultra-short picosecond pulsed lasers for the machining and structuring of glass to enable the manufacturing of optical components. PowerPhotonic currently manufacture freeform and micro-optical components by machining and polishing of fused silica glass using CO2 lasers. Ultra-short pulse processing at shorter wavelengths offers the prospect of processing a wider range of materials, and generating structures with higher spatial resolution. PowerPhotonic are keen to investigate laser machining and surface structuring processes with shorter pulses and shorter wavelengths, to enable them to offer a wider range of micro-optic products.
In this project a range of different lasers and pulse lengths will be used to machine, structure and polish a variety of optical components. For example, complex diffractive and refractive elements will be manufactured on a range of materials. The project will make use of the extensive suite of microsecond, nanosecond, and picosecond lasers available within the research group. Where appropriate, use will be made of beam shaping techniques for the generation of particular surface patterns; in the group we have developed expertise in laser beam shaping using liquid crystal based spatial light modulators [SLMs] and deformable mirrors.