Femtosecond laser writing of near-surface waveguides for refractive-index sensing

Category : Publications | Date : Oct 28, 2019

A. Abou Khalil, P. Lalanne, J.-P. Bérubé, Y. Petit, R. Vallée and L. Canioni

Femtosecond laser writing of optical waveguides and components in glasses has been a remarkably growing research field during the last two decades. However, such laser- inscribed optical components were mostly written within the volume of the glass due to the unavoidable ablation that arises when the focal spot is approaching the glass surface. This has generally limited the interaction of light with the surrounding medium thus preventing sensing functionality. In this paper, we present the inscription of surface and near-surface silver based waveguides in a silver containing glass with no need for additional processing as it is the case for standard type I waveguides. In addition, an ultra-sensitive refractive index sensor in a 1 cm glass chip is obtained based on near-surface waveguides interacting with liquid droplets acting as top-layer on the glass surface. Remarkably, the device exhibits a novel double-wing feature that sharpens the response and enhances its sensitivity. Our results highlight the advantages of silver based waveguides paving the way towards further surface based sensors in fibers.