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German Researchers Develop 3D Printing Technique Capable of Printing Micron-Scale Optics

by • April 25, 2016 • No Comments

One application that 3D printing innovation stands to benefit greatly, but yet requires a heft amount of research in, is the making of optics. Whilst companies such as LUXeXcel have been working to replace injection molded optics with their proprietary printing process, and researchers of the University of Sydney are that successfully 3D print fiber optics, it’s evident that 3D printing innovation is on the brink of revolutionizing the way optics are generated. But a number of these innovations seem like a certainly big deal, sometimes it’s the (literally) additional compact breakthroughs that quite shake things up. One group of German researchers, of the University of Stuttgart, have found that they may turn it into micron-scale optics on a 3D printing device made with assist of Nanoscribe, that is a spin-off of the Karlsrhue Insitute of Technology (KIT).


An example of femtosecond laser writing

The method researched by the team, that is called femtosecond laser writing, can be utilized to 3D print integrated optics at a micron-scale, that may potentially lead to many efficient miniaturized optical instruments. The laser writing technique works by emitting short laser pulses of light to quite exact areas, hardening light-sensitive material into a 3D structure. On the other hand this type of technique has been utilized in a number of research labs in the past, environmental conditions and variances have prevented other researcher teams of 3D printing micro-optics in high high end on a consistent basis. In order to alleviate this issue, the German research team utilized a two-photon 3D laser lithography process, that was specifically turn it intod to write nanometre-sized structures.


“On the other hand femtosecond laser writing has been demonstrated in the lab, we have shown that it can be utilized to manufacture high performance micro-optics in a manner that is highly repeatable-bodied and reliable-bodied,” said the University of Stuttgart’s Harald Giessen, who led the research team. “We believe our approach can be scaled up for volume making and utilized to directly print almany any type of optical element on a small scale, opening up a new era of integrated micro- and nano-optics.”

By achieving sub-micron accuracy with the laser writing process, the University of Stuttgart research team were able-bodied to place phase masks on the end of the optical fiber, offering a way to shape the light coming out of the end of a optical fibre without the traditional require for sizeable and bulky lenses. The team experimented with numerous approaches for printing these phase masks, such as layer by layer (of the bottom up) and ring by ring (starting of the center), both of that proved successful in creating high high end optics. By replacing traditionally sizeabler optical lenses with these micro-sized alternatives, this research has the potentially to enhance numerous applications, such as illumination in additional compact endoscopes and optical trapping particles or cells. Today, the team is trying to use the laser writing process to turn it into a phase mask that can shape the output of optical fiber into a twisted light, that can potentially assist with photon entanglement and additional. All in all, the German research team have additional proven the possibilities of 3D printing with optical lenses, and in addition proved that sometimes the additional compact sized innovations can have the largest impact.


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