Investigation of subsurface damage impact on resistance of laser radiation of fused silica substrates
In this work we report an experimental investigation of subsurface damage (SSD) in conventionally polished fused silica (FS) substrates which are widely used in laser applications and directly influence performances of optical elements. Two procedures were developed: 1 - acid etching and 2 - superpolishing. Additionally, surface roughness and total integrated scattering (TIS) measurements were performed to find correlation between the main surface properties and laser induced damage threshold (LIDT) as circumstantial evidence of elimination of SSD. Different durations of acid etching have been used to study LIDT of FS substrates. These experiments revealed that the optimal etching time is ~1 min. for a given acid concentration. Laser induced damage threshold of etched and SiO2 layer coated FS samples increased ~3 times, while of the ones that were not coated - 4 times. It has been revealed that for nonetched surface a single nano- to micro-scale absorbing defect ensemble most likely associated with polishing particles within Beilby layer was dominant, while damage morphology in ~1 min etched FS sample had no point defects observed. More than 5 times lower roughness value (RMS) was obtained by superpolishing procedure using colloidal silica abrasive particles. LIDT of such superpolished fussed silica substrates was also strongly increased and compared with conventional CeO2 abrasive polishing.