Journal article

Micro-structuring of glassy carbon for precision glass molding of binary diffractive optical elements

Precision glass molding is a more cost efficient process for the large volume manufacturing of highly complex optical surfaces than direct manufacturing. Glassy carbon (GC) molds are used for precision glass molding, because they can be operated at temperatures up to 2000°C. Used today mainly for manufacturing aspheric lenses, we consider here material technology for diffractive optical element (DOE). For diffractive optics the surface structuring is in the micrometer range and a surface roughness Ra lower than 20 nm is required. We introduce a reactive ion etching process with a titanium hard mask. Fused silica (FS) molds with identical optical functionality were fabricated for comparison. All molds were used for precision glass molding of a low Tg glass L-BAL42. We will compare GC and FS as mold materials in terms of quality and robustness. Optical performance measurements of the molded glass DOEs are shown and are in good agreement with the theoretical predictions. The results confirm that precision glass molding based on GC molds is a very promising technology to economically fabricate small structures in glass for DOEs.


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