Anamorphic beam shaping system designed to optimize irradiance distribution in the Cofiblas process for glass nanofibers production
UNIVERSAL IDENTIFIER: http://hdl.handle.net/11093/3100
DOCUMENT TYPE: article
Glass fibers play a key role as reinforcements in composite materials, where increasing mechanical properties at affordable costs are required in applications such aerospace, automotive and wind turbine manufacturing. The production of glass nanofibers augurs a substantial enhancement of their performance. However, although different techniques are currently used to produce glass, polymer or carbon nanofibers, none of them is practical to continuously produce solid, non-porous and separated glass nanofibers with capability to feasibly scaling up for mass production. The continuous fiberizing by laser melting (Cofiblas), makes possible to obtain ultrafine fibers with virtually infinite length. Here, we provide a deep analysis on the influence of the laser beam shaping system on the performance of the Cofiblas technique. Two different optical systems are compared: the first one consists of a beam-splitter coupled to a set of mirrors and spherical lenses. While the second one, is based on an anamorphic system comprising a simple combination of cylindrical and spherical lenses. Both configurations are evaluated and compared in several sets of experiments with the main target of obtaining continuous glass nanofibers with the smallest diameter. The anamorphic system generates an elliptical Gaussian distribution of the laser beam irradiance, which increases the energy absorbed by the preform. As a result, continuous silica nanofibers with diameters 84.5% smaller are obtained with the anamorphic system, compared with the optical system constituted by spherical lenses.
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