Physicists have created diamond mirrors that can withstand a powerful laser beam

In their work, physicists from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences used

method of etching nanoscale structures in diamonds,designed for applications in quantum optics and communications. Using an ion beam, the researchers sawed out 3 by 3 mm nanopillars on the surface of a diamond sheet, shaped like a golf ball stand. The created surface reflects 98.9% of the light.

The researchers tested the properties of theirmirrors using a continuous-wave laser with a power of 10 kW. The power of such a device is enough to burn steel. During the experiment, the laser beam was focused into a spot with a size of 750 microns. The surface of the diamond withstood such an impact without damage, the mirror remained unharmed.

An enlarged photo of the surface. Source: Loncar Lab/Harvard SEAS

Researchers note that most mirrors,which are now used to direct the beam in high-power continuous-wave lasers, are made by layering thin coatings of materials with different optical properties. But if there is even one tiny defect in any of the layers, a powerful laser beam will burn through it, and the entire device will fail.

A monolithic mirror made from a single material reduces the chance of defects and increases the lifetime of the laser, the authors explain.

Our Single Material Mirror Approacheliminates the thermal stress problem encountered by conventional mirrors formed by layers of multiple materials when irradiated at high power.

Marco Lonkar, professor of electrical engineering and one of the authors of the study

Physicists believe that the proposed approach will increasethe efficiency of existing high-power lasers, as well as find new areas for their application. For example, such mirrors can be used in semiconductor manufacturing, industry, communications, and space exploration.

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