Laser micromachining processes have many advantages. They allow for micro-scale machining and are contact free, which means no surface contamination. In addition, laser welding makes it possible to fabricate components without adhesive for results that are more stable, durable, and shock resistant.
We have developed a technique using laser micromachining to sculpt the side of optical fibers. This technique can be used to fabricate various fiber devices. Unlike chemical ablation, which generally affects the entire circumference of the fiber, laser micromachining makes it possible to remove material from a single side of the fiber in a very localized manner. In addition, machining does not further weaken the fiber beyond the weakening effect produced by reducing its dimensions.
Laser micromachining can also be used on optical fiber ends to produce a microlense that makes it possible to more effectively couple the power of a laser diode to the fiber. A number of curve radii are possible, with the smallest being about 5 µm.