We present results on laser-assisted formation of two- and three-dimensional structures comprised of gold nanoparticles in glass. The sample material was gold-ion-doped borosilicate glass prepared by conventional melt quenching. The nanoparticle growth technique consisted of two steps - laser-induced defect formation and annealing. The first step was realized by irradiating the glass by nanosecond and femtosecond laser pulses over a wide range of fluences and number of applied pulses. The irradiation by nanosecond laser pulses (emitted by a Nd:YAG laser system) induced defect formation, expressed by brown coloration of the glass sample, only at a wavelength of 266 nm. At 355, 532 and 1064 nm, no coloration of the sample was observed. The femtosecond laser irradiation at 800 nm also induced defects, again observed as brown coloration. The absorbance spectra indicated that this coloration was related to the formation of oxygen deficiency defects. After annealing, the color of the irradiated areas changed to pink, with a corresponding well-defined peak in the absorbance spectrum. We relate this effect to the formation of gold nanoparticles with optical properties defined by plasmon excitation. Their presence was confirmed by high-resolution TEM analysis. No nanoparticle formation was observed in the samples irradiated by nanosecond pulses at 355, 532 and 1064 nm. The optical properties of the irradiated areas were found to depend on the laser processing parameters; these properties were studied based on Mie theory, which was also used to correlate the experimental optical spectra and the characteristics of the nanoparticles formed. We also discuss the influence of the processing conditions on the characteristics of the particles formed and the mechanism of their formation and demonstrate the fabrication of structures composed of nanoparticles inside the glass sample. This technique can be used for the preparation of 3D nanoparticle systems embedded in transparent materials with potential applications in the design of new optical components, such as metamaterials and in plasmonics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas