Femtosecond laser, oxide glasses, three-dmensional structuring, nonlinear optics


Three-dimensional femtosecond laser structuring has a growing interest because of its ease of implementation and the numerous possible applications in the domain of photonic components. Structures such as waveguides, diffraction gratings, optical memories or photonic crystals can be fabricated thanks to this technique. Its use with oxide glasses is promising because of several advantages; they are resistant to flux and ageing, their chemical composition can easily be changed to fit the well-defined requirements of an application. They can already be found in Raman amplifiers, optical fibers, fiber lasers, and other devices. This thesis is based on two axes. The first axis consists in characterizing the linear and nonlinear optical properties of bulk vitreous materials in order to optimize their composition with a particular application in view. Within this context, the nonlinear optical properties, their physical origins (electronic and nuclear) as well as their characteristic response times (from a few femtoseconds to a few hundreds of picoseconds) are described within the Born-Oppenheimer approximation. Fused silica and several sodium-borophosphate glasses containing different concentrations in niobium oxide have been studied. Results show that the nonlinear optical properties of fused silica are mainly from electronic origin, whereas in the sodium-borophosphate glasses, the contribution from nuclear origin becomes predominant when the concentration of niobium oxide exceeds 30%. The second axis is based on the structuring of materials. Three commercially available fused silica samples presenting different fabrication conditions (therefore distinct impurity levels) and irradiated with a near infrared femtosecond laser have been studied. The laser induced defects have been identified by means of several spectroscopic techniques. They show the formation of color centers as well as a densification inside the irradiated area. Their linear refractive index and nonlinear third-order susceptibility properties have been measured. Moreover, the structuring of fused silica at the subwavelength scale into "nanogratings" is observed and the form of birefringence induced by these structures is discussed. In addition to the fused silica samples, several oxide glasses presenting very distinct chemical compositions have been studied. A sodium-borophosphate glass containing niobium oxide exhibits micro-cracks and nano-crystallites following irradiation. A silicate glass with or without a silver component reveals fluorescent rings or "nanograting" structures. A zinc phosphate glass containing silver also presents fluorescent ring structures, with a size of the order of 80 nm, well below the diffraction limit. Pump-probe microscope techniques have been performed on this glass to investigate the laser-glass interaction. The absorption mechanism is determined to be four-photon absorption. The generated free electron density is ~ 1017 cm-3, which suggests the conclusion that an electron gas rather than a plasma is formed during the laser irradiation.


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Graduation Date



Richardson, Martin


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program









Release Date

May 2009

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)