Glass melting is one of the most common activities at the glass studio. During the last few years, we have developed the skills and facilities necessary to prepare high-quality optical glasses with various compositions, such as lead-silicate, tellurite, phosphate and germanate. Our laboratories consist of several sections for glass melting process and post-processing, to the development of new fibrer fabrication techniques for different applications. We have facilities for cutting, grinding, polishing, etching and extrusion, and so can manufacture for example cylinders, prisms and tubes and even complicated preform structures. We can also produce active glasses by mixing rare-earth dopants into the raw powders before glass melting.
At early days, the initial focuses of these laboratories were set on the preparation and characterization of non-silica glasses, or soft glasses (commerically unavailable) for optical waveguides. Our main glass activities include heavy metal oxides, fluorides or chalcogenides (under-development), which possess advantageous properties such as high linear/nonlinear indices, extended ultraviolet (UV) to mid-infrared (mid-IR) transmission, increased rare-earth ions doping concentration, etc. Such advantages bring novel properties in prepared bulk materials, as well as in fiber waveguides, and therefore have potential applications beyond the current limits by waveguides made from fused silica.
Recently we are extending greatly our goals to broad applications in optics by developing new fabrication techniques for photonic crystal fibers/bulk waveguides, incorporating advanced technologies such as Additive Manufacturing (3D printing), glass extrusion, etching, perform spinning, polymer/ glass hybrid structures for complicated fiber structures.
For glass characterisation UV/Visible/NIR and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometers and a prism coupler for measuring the refractive indices of bulk or thin films are available. Further equipment at the Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen (in the group of our collaborator Prof. Dominique de Ligny) includes a differential thermal analyser (DTA), a dynamic mechanical analyser (DMA), and both photoluminescence and Raman spectrometers.