Femtosecond laser light follows widely varying interaction pathways when focused inside of transparent materials, reacting further to powerful feedback mechanisms that seemingly counter our best intentions to channel laser energy into a preferred and reproducible process. The presentation follows such fundamental interactions towards the practical means for managing laser processes in transparent glasses, including fibres and thin film, where one can exploit the concepts of microexplosions, photochemistry, interferometric cleaving disks, and self-focusing filamentation that underpins significant opportunities for creating new types of optical, micromechanical, and nanofluidic devices. We examine scientific principles applied in creating dense memory storage, three-dimensional (3D) optical circuits, 3D microfluidic networks, and high-speed scribing tracks that enable highly functional and compact devices to form and integrate seamlessly for a wide base of advanced applications. We survey opportunities for smart catheters, fiber-cladding photonics, lab-in-a-fiber, and lab-in-a-film, demonstrating the unexplored future potential opened by the magic of nonlinear laser interaction physics.
Peter R. Herman received the B.Eng. degree (1980) in Engineering Physics at McMaster University. He earned MASc (1982) and PhD (1986) degrees studying lasers and diatomic spectroscopy in the Physics Department at the University of Toronto that followed with a post-doctoral position at the Institute of Laser Engineering in Osaka University, Japan (1987) to the study of laser-plasma physics and x-ray lasers. He joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto in 1988 where he holds a full professor position. Professor Herman directs a large and collaborative research group that develops and applies laser technology and advanced beam delivery systems to control and harvest laser interactions in new frontiers of 3-D nanofabrication. Our mantra is: “We begin with light and we end with light devices.” To this end we are inventing new methods for processing internally inside optical materials that carve out highly compact and functional lightwave circuits, microfluidics, optofluidic systems, biophotonic sensors, and smart medical catheters. Our end goals are inventing new manufacturing processes and extending optical device and Lab-on-a-chip concepts towards more compact Lab-in-a-fiber and Lab-in-a-film microsystems. Professor Herman is OSA fellow, holds several patents, spun out one company (FiLaser), and has published over 300 papers in journals and conference proceedings.