Glass is one of the oldest materials used by mankind. In terms of its optical properties as well as mechanical, chemical and physical resilience, glass remains unmatched and significantly outperforms polymers in most applications in academia and industry. However, glass is notoriously difficult to shape and thus is often disfavoured over polymers. For novel, innovative technologies, polymers are therefore frequently the first material of choice. While the convenient applicability of polymers facilitates initial establishment of the technology, the inferior material properties often impede sophisticated applications. A technology that allows convenient structuring of optical glasses at resolutions of a few micrometres would be the key to many demanding applications in next-generation photonics, sensing and imaging. From highly-integrated optics for smartphones, to sensors, optical data technology and photonics, such a technology is a game-changer.
The aim of OptoGlass3D is to develop exactly such a key technology, which will allow the generation of optical-grade fused silica glasses with adjustable optical properties by high resolution additive manufacturing via a two-photon polymerization (2PP) process. OptoGlass3D will be a co-developed manufacturing strategy based on two core technologies developed by each of the participants, respectively: Nanoscribe’s established 2PP technology and Glasomer’s LiquidGlass process. During this project the consortium will develop LiquidGlass formulations which can be structured via Nanoscribe’s 2PP process as well as the required process conditions, parameters and (potentially) instrumental adaptations. Based on the LiquidGlass process formulation, modifications will be developed which allow generating optical glasses with adjustable optical properties such as the index of refraction which will be made adjustable in a range of = 1.46 to = 1.50. Validation of the technology’s capability will be showcased by manufacturing of demonstrator samples addressing the potential of glass components for adjustable refractive and high-resolution diffractive optics.
Imaging and detection technologies have been identified as the key enables for Europe’s 2020 Agenda goals. These technologies require access to high-performance optical materials as well as high-performance three-dimensional structuring capability. The aim of OptoGlass3D is to provide exactly this: An enabling technology allowing high-resolution 3D structuring of optical glasses with tuneable properties for next-generation detection and imaging. This technology has no competitive state-of-the-art: It will be the very first time, that glass can be generated at resolution in the single micrometre digit with the ability to adapt the optical properties. This will be a game-changer for next-generation imaging, sensing and photonics.