Irradiation of fused silica with focused pulses of 300-500 nJ records data in submicrometer-sized regions of increased refractive index. We have demonstrated 2-µm in-plane bit spacing and 15-µm interplane spacing (17 Gbits/cm3) . Optical devices such as waveguides, gratings, splitters, and couplers are machined in glass by translating the sample during irradiation. Preliminary experiments fabricating waveguides in poled polymers indicate it might be possible to micromachine a tunable electro-optic switch or nonlinear wavelength conversion device.
Pulses focused into biological samples ablate structures with submicrometer resolution and no collateral damage . Actin stress fibers retract upon severing, indicating that they are under tension in a cell. Another experiment examines the thermotactic circuit of the nematode worm C. elegans. Severing neuronal fibers and ablating cell bodies disrupts their contribution to behavior, thus permitting identification of their role.
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