This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will develop a commercial growth process for single crystals of KBe2BO3F2 (KBBF) using hydrothermal techniques. The compound was developed 10 years ago and shows exceptional promise as a deep UV non-linear optical (NLO) material. The sub-200 nm region is presently inaccessible for solid-state lasers, and optical components functioning at these wavelengths are limited. KBBF has excellent deep UV properties and shows great promise for laser applications like frequency doubling and wavelength mixing. A previous flux growth method for the crystals demonstrated excellent performance in deep UV lasing, but the material is very difficult to grow in the required single crystal form. Additionally, China has embargoed crystals grown by this method, as well as the process, so KBBF crystals are currently unavailable outside of China.
The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be to continue to develop the hydrothermal method for growth of single crystals for optical applications. NLO materials are vital for the development of solid-state lasers with wavelengths below 200 nm for use in photolithography, micromachining and spectroscopy. The availability of KBBF crystals will also enable new technologies, such as standoff explosive detection. This technology will help the rebirth of the advanced materials industry in the United States. The crystal growth industry has moved nearly completely offshore, leaving the United States vulnerable in terms of advanced applications, with a shrinking pipeline of new strategic materials, especially in the field of optics. This field is particularly dependent on new materials and the US is in serious danger of losing our once-substantial competitive edge. Additionally, a postdoctoral student will be supported through a subaward to Clemson University, and will become part of the next generation of materials scientists and engineers in this country.
(Award # IIP-1058055)" has enabled the US development of this material by Advanced Photonic Crystals, LLC (APC). China has previously been the only supplier of KBBF to the world. The Chinese government embargoed the sales of KBBF outside of China in late 2009; APC licensed the U.S. Patent for hydrothermal growth of this material from Clemson University. KBBF is a material that allows for the development of various scientific instruments that are used to study new superconducting materials, development of instrumentation that will allow detection of chemical, biological, and explosives as well as many other uses. As a result of this grant, APC in conjunction with Clemson University (subcontractor on this grant) has developed protocols for the hydrothermal crystal growth of this material on a commercially viable scale. APC is currently finalizing the needed procedures for the cutting and polishing of KBBF to supply the US government and commercial entities with this needed material. In addition to KBBF other related materials were also developed such as the Rubidium containing analog of KBBF, RBBF. The RBBF crystal shows a more robust crystal nature than that KBBF making it easier to cut and polish. These steps are necessary for the crystal to be in a useful form. "This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content."