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Rebecca Dylla-Spears

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Additive Manufacturing of Glass Optics

The capability to customize the structure or composition of an optical element gives designers access to previously unrealizable configurations that show promise for reducing costs as well as improving the size, weight, and power of optical systems. Techniques for three-dimensional (3d) printing of glass have opened the door to novel glass optics with both unconventional structures and tailored composition. An overview of the state-of-the art in glass 3d printing will be presented. Particular emphasis will be placed on the direct ink writing (DIW) technique, in which specially formulated silica pastes are extruded through a nozzle and deposited in the geometry of interest, forming low density green bodies. The green bodies are then converted to full density, optically homogeneous glass by a series of heat treatments. The 3d printed silica-based glass components have material and optical properties that rival conventionally prepared optical grade fused silica. In addition, glass optics that contain tailored gradients in composition, such as gradient index lenses, have been achieved by DIW by blending separate inks inline at the print nozzle and directly depositing the desired composition profile before forming the glass. Strategies are also being developed to reduce time to development of new materials and structures.

This work performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344 within the LDRD program 16-SI-003. LLNL-ABS-758645


Rebecca Dylla-Spears received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin in 2000 and her PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 2009. She is currently a group leader in Advanced Optical Materials & Processing S&T at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, and supports optics research efforts for a number of LLNL’s laser programs. Rebecca currently leads a research program to additively manufacture glass, with an emphasis on glass optics that contain functional gradients in material properties. She also studies colloidal and interfacial phenomenon as they pertain to optical polishing and optical materials.


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