Ultrafast modification of oxide glass surface hardness

Abstract

Application of femtosecond lasers is widely utilized in micromachining transparent materials. We have successfully altered the surface hardness of various commercial silicate glasses using a high-intensity femtosecond pulse laser. The femtosecond laser generates pulse energy of 500 nJ with a central wavelength of 800 nm. Using a peak power of 2.2 W and a repetition rate of 5.1 MHz, we observed an 18–20% increase surface hardness in glasses with low-modifier content and 16.6% decrease in glasses with high-modifier content. All laser exposed glasses show no detectable induced-crystallization or surface ablation. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy results of our samples confirmed that the laser irradiation had no detectable effect on surface chemistry. X-ray reflectometry data showed the change in hardness was attributed to a thin layer with modified density. Experimental results suggest the strengthening mechanism derives from local structural transformation of interatomic bond distances and angles.

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Correspondence to Sean Locker.

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Locker, S., Sundaram, S.K. Ultrafast modification of oxide glass surface hardness. Appl. Phys. B 125, 225 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00340-019-7334-5

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