Blu-Ray Development Kit for Nano Science

Virginia Commonwealth University   |  Jan 19, 2020

In this project, students will develop an easy to use and well-documented consumer-grade platform for interfacing with optical pickup units (OPUs) used in Blu-Ray and HD-DVD drives. Presently, these OPUs are highly sophisticated, ultra-compact modules which contain multiple lasers (365 nm - UHD Blu Ray; 405 nm - Blu Ray; 650 nm - DVD, and 780 nm - CD), controllable beam routing optics, integrated quadrant detectors, amplifier circuity, advanced wave phase-front controllers, and multi-axis positioning stages with nanometric precision. Although these components are critical for the intended use of reading/writing data to a disc, such components are of general use to many technical fields such as nanoscale lithography, high-speed atomic force microscopy (AFM), chemical sensing, optical surface profilometry, and near field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM).

Although powerful, OPU systems are extremely complex electrical/optical systems whose electrical diagrams and operational principles can vary from vendor to vendor. This complexity is compounded by the extreme lack of documentation for how to properly interface with these systems, leaving many to pursue alternative routes. Yet, the potential to utilize these systems in wide-ranging scientific fields remains. We look to solve this limitation by forming a development kit for a specific model of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD OPU. Building from our prior work utilizing Blu-Ray and HD-DVD OPUs for nanofabrication, we seek to provide a well-documented, easy-to-use, and low-cost platform which will enable researchers to readily implement OPU technology in their critical experiments and applications.

The project will produce a prototype development kit with customized PCB and housing that can be readily purchased and integrated with custom experimental test stands, complete with circuit schematics and an operational manual. Moreover, the simplicity, low-cost, and compactness of the system will be attractive for educational applications to enable customized laboratory experiments for high school and collegiate nano science and physics courses in engineering, physics, chemistry.

The proposed system is expected to have a substantial impact upon research and development centers as well as nanofabrication facilities. For example, sample patterning is typically achieved using expensive facilities and processes including photolithography, laser write lithography, and/or electron beam lithography. These systems prohibit rapid development due to their cost, complexity, long training time, and/or lack of flexibility (i.e. photomask). The proposed system is focused on solving this issue while providing an avenue to integrate with additional technologies and capabilities, for example AFM. By utilizing the laser and integrated detector of the OPU as the position sensor for the tip, a high speed rotational AFM can be realized. Furthermore, by utilizing a hollow metal coated tip as opposed to a solid tip, the confinement and guiding of the illumination can be achieved to produce a nanoscale optical hotspots (i.e. NSOM), useful for near field optical excitation and sensing of various molecules, structures, and materials.