A unique anamorphic lens design was applied to a circular 780nm femtosecond laser pulse to transform it into an elliptically shaped beam at focus. This lens was developed to give an alternative method of micromachining bulk transparent materials. The challenge for femtosecond laser processing is to control the nonlinear affect of self-focusing, which can occur when using a fast f-number lens. Once the focused spot is dominated by self-focusing the predicted focused beam becomes a filament inside the bulk, which is an undesirable effect. The anamorphic lens resolves this self-focusing by increasing the numerical aperture (NA) and employing an elliptical beam shape. The anamorphic lens was designed to furnish a 2.5μm by 190μm line at focus. Provided the pulse energy is high enough, transparent bulk material will be damaged with a single femtosecond laser pulse. Damage in this text refers to visual change in the index of refraction as observed under an optical microscope. Using this elliptical shape (or line), grating structures were micro-machined on the surface of SiC bulk transparent substrate. SiC was chosen because it is known for its micromachining difficulty and its crystalline structure. From the lack of self-focusing and using energy that is just above the damage threshold the focused line beam generated from the anamorphic lens grating structures produced a line shape nearly identical to the geometrical approximation. In this paper we discuss a new method of writing gratings (or other types of structures) in bulk transparent materials using a single femtosecond laser pulse. We will investigate the grating structures visually (inspected under an optical microscope) and also by use of an atomic force microscopy (AFM). In addition, we test the grating diffraction efficiency (DE) as a function of grating spacing, d.
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