Glass: Material Properties and Precision Machining Technology

Glass meltGlass meltGlass is a very old material, available well before the onset of the late Roman Empire. Precision machining of glass, on the other hand, is a very novel concept.

Fabricating small devices out of glass is a challenge. Very few tools can precision machine glass. With few exceptions (optical fibers for example), glass-based microdevices are produced with old technology, using tools designed to fabricate much larger components. Consequently, even when glass is the most desirable material for a given application, the microdevice designer is often forced to settle for a less-desirable alternative material.

Fortunately, this situation is changing. For the last decade, numerous research groups, including our group at Translume, have been working to develop processes to precision micromachine glass. Translume has developed a manufacturing platform that relies on femtosecond lasers to micromachine fused silica (the purest of glass). This workstation has the capability to machine complex geometric contours and shapes in three dimensions in fused silica slabs. Furthermore, our CNC-like computer-controlled tool is able to induce localized index of refraction changes in glass.

Material - Select Article

Fused Silica? Fused Quartz? What is the difference?
What is the difference between fused quartz and fused silica? Confused?  Well, you are not alone - This is one of the most frequently asked…
Fused Silica Material Properties
Chemical Properties Fused Silica Chemical Composition Translume works with Fused Silica (also called fused quartz). This glass is composed exclusively of high-purity silica (SiO2) in…
Radiation Damage Threshold in Various Materials, including Fused Silica Glass
Radiation Damage Threshold in Various Materials, including Fused Silica Glass Semiconductors, organic materials, and some mixed composition glasses are damaged by ionizing radiation.Pure fused silica glass, on the other hand, is exceptionally tolerant of most…
PDMS vs. Glass - and the Winner is…
PDMS vs. Glass - and the Winner is… We are often asked to compare microfluidic chips made out of glass versus PDMS.
Does glass break like metal?
Does glass break like metal? Most readers will agree that glass is a "brittle" material.  It is our everyday experience (well, hopefully you don’t really test this every day!) that…
Fused Silica - MSDS
 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
A Glass Spring
A Glass Spring Wikipedia will tell you that springs are usually made out of spring steel. While that is usually correct, that does not necessarily have to be…

Micromachining Processes

femtoWrite The femtoWrite™ process is used to locally change the index of refraction of a glass. One can turn this local…
Translume's femtoEtch™ process is used to precisely shape fused silica substrates.  To start the process, we use a direct-write laser workstation…