Abstract

The effect of nonlinear propagation on the shape of the focal volume has been assessed by in situ plasma emission imaging during the subsurface processing of a commercial phosphate glass. The sample was processed with an elliptically shaped femtosecond-laser beam at 1 kHz repetition rate and scanned transversely with respect to the writing beam axis. As a consequence, optimal conditions for minimizing undesirable nonlinear propagation effects during the production of optical waveguides by direct laser writing have been determined. Under these conditions, it is possible to induce structural transformations and still preserve the focal volume shape associated with the linear propagation regime. While at low pulse energy a single scan laser-written structure does not support a guided mode, the use of multiple scans with minimized nonlinear propagation effects enables the production of optical waveguides. The latter show a significantly improved performance in terms of the refractive index change and propagation losses when compared to single scan waveguides.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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