Microfabrication of photonic devices for mid-infrared optical applications
Morris, James Matthew Harold Dodd
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This thesis details research into the microfabrication of photonic devices for mid-infrared optical applications using the technique of ultrafast laser inscription. A diverse range of devices and materials is explored, including the first fabrication and development of an ultrafast laser inscribed mid-infrared waveguide laser source in thulium-doped sesquioxide ceramic gain media. The source produced 81 mW of output power at 1942 nm with a maximum slope efficiency of 9.5% demonstrating progress towards compact, low-threshold and efficient ultrafast laser written waveguide laser sources near 2 μm with the potential for high pulse repetition rate and ultrashort pulse operation. Also shown is the first demonstration of ultrafast laser inscription enabled selective chemical etching of chalcogenide glass. Investigations into the etching of modified regions in gallium lanthanum sulphide glass showed they could be etched at a rate ~13.3 times greater than the un-modified bulk. This result was explored further as a potential route to the production of optofluidic sensors for gas, liquid chemical or biomedical samples. The first demonstration and characterisation of ultrafast laser written waveguides in the chalcogenide glass GASIR-1 is also described. The waveguides were employed for chip scale supercontinuum generation producing the broadest and deepest Infrared supercontinuum from an ultrafast laser inscribed waveguide to-date, spanning ~4 μm from 2.5 to 6.5 μm, which has applications in remote sensing. Finally, the design, build and commissioning of an advanced laser processing setup suitable for ultrafast laser inscription is also detailed.