Inscription of in-fibre photonic devices by an infrared femtosecond laser
In this work, a point by point method for the inscription of fibre Bragg gratings using a tightly focused infrared femtosecond laser is implemented for the first time. Fibre Bragg gratings are wavelength-selective, retro-reflectors which have become a key component in optical communications as well as offering great potential as a sensing tool. Standard methods of fabrication are based on UV inscription in fibre with a photosensitive core. Despite the high quality of the gratings, a number of disadvantages are associated with UV inscription, in particular, the requirements of a photosensitive fibre, the low thermal stability and the need to remove the protective coating prior to inscription. By combining the great flexibility offered by the point by point method with the advantages inherent to inscription by an infrared femtosecond laser, the previous disadvantages are overcome. The method here introduced, allows a fast inscription process at a rate of ~1mm/s, gratings of lengths between 1cm and 2cm exhibiting reflections in excess of 99%. Physical dimensions of these gratings differ significantly from those inscribed by other methods, in this case the grating is confined to a fraction of the cross section of the core, leading to strong and controllable birefringence and polarisation dependent loss. Finally, an investigation of the potential for their exploitation towards novel applications is carried out, devices such as directional bend sensors inscribed in single-mode fibre, superimposed but non-overlapping gratings, and single-mode, single-polarisation fibre lasers, were designed, fabricated and characterised based on point by point femtosecond inscription.