Exposing tellurite glass to femtosecond laser light

Scientists developed the process of converting glass into a light-energy harvester that is transparent. Physicists have come up with a new method for creating photoconductive circuits, which involves using femtosecond laser light to directly pattern the circuit onto a glass surface. This innovative technology has the potential to be useful for energy harvesting in the future, as it remains transparent to light and is made from a single material.

Gözden Torun at the Galatea Lab collaborated with scientists from Tokyo Tech to investigate the effects of exposing tellurite glass to femtosecond laser light. In her thesis work, Torun made a groundbreaking discovery that could potentially transform windows into single material light-harvesting and sensing devices. The results of the study can be found in PR Applied.

The aim of the investigation was to observe how the atoms in the tellurite glass would reorganize when exposed to fast pulses of high energy femtosecond laser light. During the experiment, the scientists unexpectedly found the formation of nanoscale tellurium and tellurium oxide crystals, which were etched into the glass as semiconducting materials. This was a significant breakthrough, as semiconducting materials exposed to daylight may lead to the generation of electricity.

“Tellurium being semiconducting, based on this finding we wondered if it would be possible to write durable patterns on the tellurite glass surface that could reliably induce electricity when exposed to light, and the answer is yes,” explains Yves Bellouard who runs EPFL’s Galatea Laboratory.

The EPFL team, in collaboration with colleagues at Tokyo Tech, have developed a new technique that allows them to create an active photoconductive material using only tellurite glass and a femtosecond laser. By modifying the glass using femtosecond laser technology, they were able to expose a simple line pattern on its surface. This pattern can generate a current when exposed to UV light and visible light, and has been shown to do so reliably for months. The interesting twist to this technique is that it requires no additional materials beyond the tellurite glass and the femtosecond laser.

“It’s fantastic, we’re locally turning glass into a semiconductor using light,” says Yves Bellouard. “We’re essentially transforming materials into something else, perhaps approaching the dream of the alchemist!.”

This news is a creative derivative product from articles published in famous peer-reviewed journals and Govt reports:

1. Gözden Torun, Anastasia Romashkina, Tetsuo Kishi, Yves Bellouard. Femtosecond-laser direct-write photoconductive patterns on tellurite glass. Physical Review Applied, 2024; 21 (1) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.21.014008
2. G. Torun, T. Kishi, and Y. Bellouard, Direct-write laser-induced self-organization and metallization beyond the focal volume in tellurite glassPhys. Rev. Mater. 5, 055201 (2021).
3. G. Torun, T. Kishi, D. Pugliese, D. Milanese, and Y. Bellouard, Formation mechanism of elemental Te produced in tellurite glass systems by femtosecond laser irradiationAdv. Mater. 35, 2210446 (2023).
4. M. Palomba, U. Coscia, G. Carotenuto, S. De Nicola, and G. Ambrosone, Fabrication and characterizations of films made of Te/TeO2 nanopowder consolidated by poly(methyl methacrylate)Phys. Status Solidi C 12, 1317 (2015).
5. D. Tsiulyanu, Gas-sensing features of nanostructured tellurium thin filmsBeilstein J. Nanotechnol. 11, 1010 (2020).

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