Group of laser-structured and functionalized wafers in various sizes and coatings

Guiding photons for improved imaging and detection

Also known as 'guiding light and images', the high-precision process of guiding photons for improved imaging and detection has become much easier. The main driver is the ongoing refinement of key processing technologies, including the laser structuring of glass plates and additional functionalization such as material deposition.

Beyond fiber optics

What has been possible with SCHOTT fiber optic technology is now moving to the next level. Whether your starting point is a fiber optic plate (FOP), micro-channel plate (MCP), light pipe array (LPA), large diameter images guide, or a modular combination of the above, SCHOTT’s engineering experts are ready to collaborate with you on a customized solution.

Multi-channel plate

The principle of laser-structured wafers is based on the precise control of light through a glass plate. The photo depicts a micro-channel plate structured with thousands of tiny holes positioned in parallel. That is why the human eye, looking at the MCP from a certain distance, can only see through the middle clearly, whereas the sides appear diffuse.
Wafer with holes and a black coated side showing a floral arrangement in the background

What is a laser structured glass plate?

Laser structuring can create patterns or structures in materials such as glass with more precision than traditional technologies such as CNC processing. It also works on a smaller scale than traditional fiber optic technology. These intricate micro- or even nano-scale structures can be positioned with extreme precision, allowing photons to pass through to reach, for example, a sensor or detector.

In the case of a fiber optic plate (FOP), light travels through a core-clad fiber. In contrast, in a micro-channel plate (MCP), light is transmitted through channels or holes (“filled” with air), often coated to further enhance the paths of the photons. For a light pipe array, light moves through glass, guided by structures filled with various materials other than air.

To determine which solution is the best for a specific application, photon management is optimized by taking into account all parameters that influence the light path.

How does a photon move through a light pipe array?

The graphic explains how light is directed through a glass wafer with laser-structured and functionally filled channels to follow the desired path.
Illustration of a light beam that travels through a light pipe array

Application segments

Guiding photons with laser-structured functionalized plates offers options for a variety of industries.

Patient being prepared for an X-ray by medical personnel

Medical X-ray imaging systems

X-ray focusing for radiology and imaging applications with high-contrast imaging and an improved signal-to-noise ratio.

Very large X-ray machine used for cargo inspection set in an industrial environment

Industrial X-ray sensing and detection

Array for high-energy X-ray imaging in industrial applications such as weld inspection, cargo and baggage inspection with increased sensitivity, high-contrast imaging and an improved signal-to-noise ratio.

View of an industrial factory through night vision goggles appearing in an off-white color

Night vision imaging systems

In military and defense applications, improved quantum efficiency and sensitivity can be achieved under challenging conditions, while offering a lightweight and compact package.

3D printer printing the final stages of an artificial hip bone

Other 3D industrial sensors and devices

Ranging from 3D printing, VCSEL devices, and spectral imaging applications all the way to diagnostic instruments, high-precision light path management can lead to improved results.


Production process:  Realizing laser-structured, functionalized plates

Three important phases in SCHOTT’s full end-to-end process lead to a large variety of designs and the creation of new solutions in optical path management for our customers‘ leading-edge applications.

Glass development and manufacturing

SCHOTT offers a broad portfolio of proprietary specialty glasses that we develop and manufacture in-house. Our glasses offer excellent performance, such as high optical transmission, and can be provided in a wide range of sizes, from very small to large formats up to 600 x 600 mm². Glass types include, for example, SCHOTT BOROFLOAT® 33, SCHOTT D263® T eco, and SCHOTT MEMpax®. Our various proprietary materials and depth of material knowledge allow us to design flexibly for the benefit of the customer.

View inside a SCHOTT melting tank which is operating at very high temperatures and thus glowing in orange tones

In-house engineering and laser structuring

Thanks to our lasers and strong network of SCHOTT experts, we offer refined in-house engineering and design capabilities. Developing our laser competencies with the latest equipment technologies available on the market, we solve complex customer applications through multiple engineering disciplines. This allows us to become creative when laser structuring glass and developing application-specific solutions for our customers.

Pulsed lasers create structures in glass plates from simple to complex patterns, in nano- and micro-dimensions. There are numerous shapes that are now made possible with repeatable precision and accuracy. These range from tiny holes and extremely thin channels to optionally curved edges and angled channels. The design options are endless.

Two structured wafers with a micro-sized checkered design shown in parallel

Further processing and functionalization

The functionality of the end-product depends on the secondary processing steps we provide. Based on SCHOTT’s in-house engineering expertise and our knowledge of glass and non-glass materials, we can offer a large variety of processing options. These include filamentation, ablation, functional coatings, interstitial deposition and atomic layer deposition (ALD), grinding and polishing, and many more.

Close-up of a micro-structured wafer showing tiny black-coated rings

Want to know more? Let’s talk

Whether you need more information, samples, a quote, or advice for a project, we would be delighted to talk to you.

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