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Micromachined silicon grisms for infrared optics

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We demonstrate the successful fabrication of large format (approximately 50 mm × 50 mm) gratings in monolithic silicon for use as high-efficiency grisms at infrared wavelengths. The substrates for the grisms were thick (8-16 mm) disks of precisely oriented single-crystal silicon (refractive index, n ~ 3.42). We used microlithography and chemical wet etching techniques to produce the diffraction gratings on one side of these substrates. These techniques permitted the manufacture of coarse grooves (as few as 7 grooves/mm) with precise control of the blaze angle and groove profile and resulted in excellent groove surface quality. Profilometric measurements of the groove structure of the gratings confirm that the physical dimensions of the final devices closely match their design values. Optical performance of these devices exceeds the specifications required for diffraction-limited performance (RMS wave surface error <λ/20) in the near- and mid-infrared (1-40 μm). Peak diffraction efficiencies measured in the reflection range from 70-95% of the theoretical maximum. Tests of our grisms in the near infrared indicate transmission efficiencies of 30-48% uncorrected for Fresnel losses and confirm excellent performance. In infrared wavelength regions where silicon transmits well, the blaze control and high index permit high-resolution, high-order dispersion in a compact space. The first application of these grisms is to provide FORCAST, a mid-infrared camera on NASA's airborne observatory, with a moderate resolution (R=100-1000) spectroscopic capability.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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