Multilevel Micro-Structuring of Glassy Carbon for Precision Glass Molding of Diffractive Optical Elements
A consumer market for diffractive optical elements in glass can only be created if high efficient elements are available at affordable prices. In diffractive optics the efficiency and optical properties increases with the number of levels used, but in the same way the costs are multiplied by the number if fabrication steps. Replication of multilevel diffractive optical elements in glass would allow cost efficient fabrication but a suitable mold material is needed. Glassy carbon shows a high mechanical strength, thermal stability and non-sticking adhesion properties, which makes it an excellent candidate as mold material for precision compression molding of low and high glass-transition temperature materials. We introduce an 8 level micro structuring process for glassy carbon molds with standard photolithography and a Ti layer as hard mask for reactive ion etching. The molds were applied to thermal imprinting onto low and high transition temperature glass. Optical performance was tested for the molded samples with different designs for laser beamsplitters. The results show a good agreement to the design specification. Our result allow us to show limitations of our fabrication technique and we discussed the suitability of precision glass molding for cost efficient mass production with a high quality.