An increasing number of applications, including smartphones, depend on micro-lanes to boost productivity. The newly developed technology, called laser catapulting, could make it much easier and cheaper to design these miniature lenses with customized properties such as shape or power of focus.
In the Optical Society (OSA) Optical Materials Express, researchers from Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Italy describe their new laser additive method for creating micro-lances using a laser pulse. The technology even allows micro-lances and microwaves to be fabricated directly on chambers or solar cells.
Microlines improve the performance of cameras and solar cells by concentrating light in the most sensitive areas of the devices. For example, they are widely used in the latest smartphone chambers to increase the sensitivity and speed of images in low light conditions.
"Our manufacturing approach simplifies lens production, while allowing for greater design diversity and greater flexibility in microwaves," said research team leader Martí Duocastella. "In addition to completely new applications, this method can lead to new cameras that acquire video under low light conditions, enhanced efficiency solar cells and microscopes that are better at capturing fast processes."
Catapulting with light
Although micro optics are commercially available, they can be too expensive and difficult to add to existing devices. Even with traditional micro-ling production methods, such as photolithography, it is difficult to integrate lenses or to make very tightly packed microwaves.
Researchers have developed a catapult to overcome these limitations. The method employs a laser pulse to remove and catapult a thin film microdisk and place it in a particular area of interest. The microdisk is then heated so that it can be thermally overloaded, allowing the capillary forces – the ones that make the water droplets – to form a microdisk in a circular lens. Changing the shape of the laser beam allows the production of micro-lanes with different focusing properties or shapes, such as rectangular, triangular or circular.
"Laser catapulting links the points between existing laser production methods to solve problems with current microengineering strategies," Duocastela says. "It fills the gap between the growing number of applications that require microwaves and the technologies that can generate micro-optics on demand."
After studying the relationship between the shape of the laser beam and the resulting microdisks, researchers explore the reproducibility, precision and accuracy of the technique. Their analysis showed that the method can be used to reproduce micro-lanes with a radius between 50 and 250 microns and a very high smoothness. Measurement of the microlens optical properties and the ability to collect light microlines made using the technique has shown that these micro-optics show diffractionally limited performance, which means they are as good as the theory allows.
Researchers argue that laser catapulting can be combined with rapid laser beam shaping techniques to control the optics and shape of individual micro-lanes within the array.
Capture of rapid biological processes
Researchers plan to use laser catapulting to make the microalloy on photodetector grids in order to develop a high-speed 3-D microscopic system that characterizes very fast biological processes such as neuronal communications or viral traffic. The microwaves will increase the efficiency of the photodetectors and thus reduce the playback time.
"These new photodetectors offer important advantages over confocal microscopy, but can not capture as much light as traditional single point detectors," said Duocastela. "We believe micro-lanes, and in particular laser catapults, will help improve the performance of these photodetector arrays and expand their use in the microscopy community."
Reversible micro-lanes to accelerate chemical detection
Salvatore Surdo et al., The Micro Optics Controlled by Laser Catapulting Geometry, Optical Materials Express (2019). DOI: 10.1364 / OME.9.002892
An inexpensive and simple method for making microchannel applications (2019, June 12)
drawn up on 12 June 2019
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