Pissadakis, S., Ikiades, A., Tai, C.Y., Sessions, Neil and Wilkinson, J.S.
Sub-micron period grating structures in Ta2O5 thin oxide films patterned using UV laser post-exposure chemically assisted selective etching
Thin Solid Films, 453-454, . (doi:10.1016/j.tsf.2003.11.175).
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A high-resolution and low-damage method for patterning relief structures in thin Ta2O5 films by chemically assisted UV laser selective etching is presented. The method is based on the initial exposure of the Ta2O5 films to pulsed UV radiation (quadrupled Nd:YAG laser at 266 nm) at fluences below the ablation threshold, for the creation of volume damage in the exposed areas. Subsequent immersion of the exposed sample in a KOH solution results in selective etching of the UV-exposed areas, developing relief structures of high quality. Interferometric exposure was used for the patterning of such gratings with periods of the order of 500 nm in films with a thickness of 100 and 500 nm. The behaviour of the patterning process is studied using diffraction efficiency measurements and AFM scans. Diffraction efficiency increases by a factor of ~63, compared to the undeveloped structure, were obtained for gratings exposed with 1000 pulses of 30 mJ/cm2 energy density, which were developed in a KOH solution. The etching method presented is being applied to the fabrication of gratings in optical waveguides.
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