One of the important challenges for the deployment of the emerging breed of nanotechnology components is
interfacing them with the external world, preferably accomplished with low-cost micro-optical devices. For the
fabrication of this kind of micro-optical modules, we make use of deep proton writing (DPW) as a generic rapid
prototyping technology. DPW consists of bombarding polymer samples with swift protons, which results after
chemical processing steps in high quality micro-optical components. The strength of the DPW micro-machining
technology is the ability to fabricate monolithic building blocks that include micro-optical and mechanical functionalities
which can be precisely integrated into more complex photonic systems.
In this paper we give an overview of the process steps of the technology and we present several examples
of micro-optical and micro-mechanical components, fabricated through DPW, targeting applications in optical
interconnections and in bio-photonics. These include: high-precision 2-D fiber connectors, out-of-plane coupling
structures featuring high-quality 45° and curved micro-mirrors, arrays of high aspect ratio micro-pillars, and
fluorescence and absorption detection bio-photonics modules.
While DPW is clearly not a mass fabrication technique as such, one of its assets is that once the master component
has been prototyped, a metal mould can be generated from the DPW master by applying electroplating.
After removal of the plastic master, this metal mould can be used as a shim in a final microinjection moulding
or hot embossing step. This way, the master component can be mass-produced at low cost in a wide variety of