The intent of this chapter is to review the use of sol-gel processing of silica and silica-titania optical coatings in recent research by the authors in three different areas: the synthesis of active gradient-index (GRIN) materials by multilayer deposition of erbium- and ytterbium-doped silica-titania films, the improvement of the optical and morphological qualities of microlens arrays fabricated by laser ablation and the functionalization of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) channel preclinical devices. Through the use of sol-gel, layers with specific properties can be produced. In this regard, undoped and erbium- and ytterbium-doped SiO2-TiO2 films have been produced and characterized using atomic force microscopy (surface topography evaluation) and spectral ellipsometry (determination of optical constants, thickness and porosity of the films). In a second application, a silica sol has been synthesized to coat microlens arrays fabricated by laser ablation. The deposited layer reduces the surface roughness of the microlens array, which yields the improvement of the contrast and the homogeneity of the foci. Finally, PDMS channels fabricated with laser technologies and soft-lithography methods are coated with a sol-gel-derived silica film to avoid the degradation of the material with organic solvents, and their biocompatibility is studied.
Part of the book: Recent Applications in Sol-Gel Synthesis
In this work, we present a laser-based process for fabricating a cell electrostimulator. The fabrication methodology comprises two laser processes: a pulse laser deposition (PLD) of an aluminum thin film on soda-lime glass and a laser-based selectively removal of the thin film. The laser set-up for PLD consist of Nd:YVO4 Rofin Power line 20E (1064 nm wavelength, 20 ns pulse width) focused by a lens of 160 mm focal length inside a vacuum chamber to strike a target of the deposited material. The same laser is used for selectively removing the thin film but focused by a lens of 100 mm focal length. The geometry design is made in CAD-like software. Before microfabrication, a thin aluminum layer (1 μm thickness) is deposited on soda-lime glass using the PLD method. In order to assemble the device, the electrical stimulator is placed between two polycarbonate sheets of 1.5 mm thickness. To prevent any contact with the electric circuit, a thin silicate glass (100 μm) is placed over the electrostimulator. Simulations were performed using ANSYS Maxwell software, verifying that the induced electrical field achieves the minimum for cell stimulation.
Part of the book: Laser Ablation
This chapter reviews the laser floating zone (LFZ) technique, also known as the laser-heated pedestal growth (LHPG), focusing on the recently produced rare-earth-doped oxyorthosilicate fibers. LFZ has been revealed as a suitable prototyping technique since high-quality crystals can be developed in short time with low consumption of precursor materials in a crucible-free processing that ensures to practically avoid by-products. Moreover, additional advantages are the possibility to treat and melt highly refractory materials together with the easy way for tailoring the final microstructural characteristics and this way the macroscopic physical properties. Thus, refractory rare-earth (RE) doped oxyorthosilicates following the formula RE2SiO5 have been recently produced by the LFZ technique for tuning laser emission parameters. The oxyorthosilicates have high chemical stability and allow incorporation of many rare-earth ions yielding different applications, such as laser host materials, gamma ray detectors or scintillators, environmental barrier coatings (EBCs) and waveguides, among others. Thus, different kinds of oxyorthosilicates were produced by the LFZ technique, and the detailed effects of the main processing parameters on crystal’s characteristics are discussed in this chapter.
Part of the book: Synthesis Methods and Crystallization