Article

3D printing micro lenses onto optical fibers.

  • Nimish Sany
  • 7 July , 2016

3D printing high quality compound lenses in the range of microns directly onto optical fibers is now possible, thanks to a group of researchers from the University of Stuttgart in Germany. The method could help in making high precision endoscopes and tiny CCDs.

Timo Gissibi, lead of the research team explains how the two-photon direct laser writing technique was used for the fabrication of the lenses. A pulsed red femtosecond laser emitting pulses shorter than 100 fs with a wavelength of 780 nm is made to fall on a surface coated with a liquid photoresist.The photoresist, under the exposure of laser causes the polymers to crosslink and later solidify to form a transparent surface. Multi-lens systems consisting of single lenses arranged together can now be created by scanning the laser. After the exposure process, the photoresist is washed away using an etchant leaving behind the optical element.

optical fiber with lens compared to hair

Optical fibre with 3D printed lens when compared to a hair strand. Image: pi4.uni-stuttgart.de

Gissibi remarks, "This is a giant leap forward for optics, which allows for accurate and reliable manufacturing at sizes about one order of magnitude smaller than before.”

He goes on to explain how the micro lens is in par with conventional microscopes even with its minute dimensions- 200 micro meters long and 125 micro meters wide.In an attempt to demonstrate the potential of their technique, researchers have successfully created a range of applications. In one trial, the researchers fabricated a micro lens system having four refractive interfaces which they 3D printed onto 5-megapixel CMOS image sensors used in digital cameras.

The method will also make way for high quality endoscopes suitable for inserting into smallest of openings in human body, machinery, etc. The researchers also fabricated a micro optical system and 3D printed it onto the needle of a syringe.

Author

Nimish Sany: I bleed my thoughts on paper. And if I cant find a paper, blogs serve the purpose just fine.

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