Enabling High Precision Gradient Index Control in Subsurface Multiphoton Lithography

Alexander J. Littlefield, Dajie Xie, Corey A. Richards, Christian R. Ocier, Haibo Gao, Jonah F. Messinger, Lawrence Ju, Jingxing Gao, Lonna Edwards, Paul V. Braun, Lynford L. Goddard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multiphoton lithography inside a mesoporous host can create optical components with continuously tunable refractive indices in three-dimensional (3D) space. However, the process is very sensitive at exposure doses near the photoresist threshold, leading previous work to reliably achieve only a fraction of the available refractive index range for a given material system. Here, we present a method for greatly enhancing the uniformity of the subsurface micro-optics, increasing the reliable index range from 0.12 (in prior work) to 0.37 and decreasing the standard deviation (SD) at threshold from 0.13 to 0.0021. Three modifications to the previous method enable higher uniformity in all three spatial dimensions: (1) calibrating the planar write field of mirror galvanometers using a spatially varying optical transmission function which corrects for large-scale optical aberrations; (2) periodically relocating the piezoelectrically driven stage, termed piezo-galvo dithering, to reduce small-scale errors in writing; and (3) enforcing a constant time between each lateral cross section to reduce variation across all writing depths. With this new method, accurate fabrication of optics of any index between n = 1.20 and 1.57 (SD < 0.012 across the full range) was achieved inside a volume of porous silica. We demonstrate the importance of this increased accuracy and precision by fabricating and characterizing calibrated two-dimensional (2D) line gratings and flat gradient index lenses with significantly better performance than the corresponding control devices. As a visual representation, the University of Illinois logo made with 2D line gratings shows significant improvement in its color uniformity across its width.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3008-3019
Number of pages12
JournalACS Photonics
Issue number9
Early online dateMar 29 2023
StatePublished - Sep 20 2023


  • 3D direct laser writing
  • porous silicon
  • high contrast gratings
  • graded index lens
  • multiphoton microscopy


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