Laser printing of tunable materials could revolutionize optical devices

A groundbreaking achievement has been made by the Holography and Optical Processing Group (GHPO), as they have successfully utilized high-precision laser techniques to print tunable materials for the very first time. This remarkable advancement has been published in the esteemed journal Optics Express and signifies a significant breakthrough in the ability to manufacture tunable devices using a fast, environmentally friendly, and highly precise printing technique.

Professor Daniel Puerto, the head of the research team, explains that this technological development enables the production of lenses with a material that alters its properties when subjected to an electrical voltage. This breakthrough opens up an array of possibilities for the application of such materials in devices, microscopes, and optical microdevices.

The collaborative effort leading to this achievement was spearheaded by the GHPO at the University of Alicante, involving researchers Sergi Gallego, Manuel Ortuño, Andrés Márquez, Jorge Francés, Inmaculada Pascual, and Augusto Beléndez. Additionally, researchers Catalin Constantinescu and Patricia Alloncle from France’s Center National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) LP3 laboratory, along with researcher Camilo Florian from Princeton University in the United States, contributed to this work.

Tunable materials with adaptable optical properties find extensive application in various communication devices, facilitating optical switching and multiplexing. The manufacturing process for these devices has traditionally been time-consuming and cost-intensive. However, in recent decades, laser processing techniques utilizing ultra-short pulse lasers (with durations ranging from 10-12 to 10-15 seconds) have been developed to produce faster and more sustainable equipment.

The expertise of the Holography and Optical Processing Group, led by lecturers Augusto Beléndez and Inmaculada Pascual, has paved the way for a novel research avenue in the production of tunable devices like lenses and waveguides, utilizing laser printing techniques.

In this regard, Daniel Puerto emphasizes that the use of polymer-based materials is crucial for technologies currently under development, such as foldable mobile phones and tablets. Flexible materials like polymers are essential for such applications.

According to the researcher, the advent of printing polymers doped with liquid crystals using laser techniques presents an ideal foundation for future technology development. Although laser techniques have been widely employed in manufacturing optical and electronic devices, printing polymers with liquid crystals has remained an unexplored possibility until now, thereby offering a vast range of opportunities for this innovative technique.

Source: Asociacion RUVID

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