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
Internal channels are one of the most interesting structures to implement in microfluidics devices. Unfortunately, the optical technologies typically used in microfluidics, such as photolithography or reactive ion etching, are unable to generate these structures by only allowing surface structuring. Stereolithographic 3D printing has emerged as a very promising technology in internal microchannel manufacturing, by allowing a layer-by-layer structuring in volume performed by a laser that photopolymerises a liquid resin. Recent advances in laser technologies have reached resolutions of tens of micrometres. The high resolution of this type of printer, which a priori would allow the fabrication of channels of the same dimensions, may pose a problem by impeding the evacuation of uncured resin. In this chapter, the compromise between size and resin evacuation will be evaluated to find the optimal diameter range in which unobstructed and accurate microchannels can be obtained.
Part of the book: Trends and Opportunities of Rapid Prototyping Technologies