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New meta-lens revolutionises vacuum UV optics

27 July 2022 News

Vacuum ultra-violet (VUV) is used in semiconductor manufacturing, photochemistry and materials science. The focused VUV light source is needed for nanolithography, material processing, advanced manufacturing, and other industrial areas.

Up to now it has been expensive to work with. VUV with wavelengths between 100 and 200 nm is strongly absorbed by the oxygen in air, and therefore, the application of VUV requires a vacuum chamber or other specialised environment. Conventionally, very bulky and expensive systems with rare nonlinear crystals are used for generating and focusing VUV light.

Almost all types of glass used to make conventional lenses are unsuitable for VUV due to their strong absorption in this region, and the few VUV-transmittable materials currently used for lenses are extremely thin and fragile.

To address these limitations, researchers at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) have developed and fabricated a meta-lens consisting of many 150 nm triangle-shaped zinc oxide nano-antenna. “We have developed a meta-lens with intricate nanostructures on zinc oxide thin film capable of focusing VUV light. This meta-lens provides a compact method for nonlinear VUV generation and focusing of the generated light,” said Professor Tsai.

The new VUV meta-lens in a 45 µm diameter can convert UV light with 394 nm wavelength into VUV light with 197 nm wavelength and focuses the VUV light on a small spot less than 2 microns in diameter. Tests at Rice University demonstrated a focused light spot from the lens with an enhanced power density of 21 times.

“Our VUV meta-lens is compact, lightweight, effective, and can be mass produced [in a] semiconductor electronics fabrication process. This novel and disruptive meta-device could revolutionise the conventional VUV optics technology and its market,” Professor Tsai said.




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