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Crystals and crystal growth

-an introductory surveyThe regular surface geometry and the shiny and often colorful appearance have made crystals from the mineral kingdom fascinating objects for everybody. Natural crystals have often been formed at relatively low temperatures by crystallization from solutions, sometimes in the course of hundreds and thousands of years. Some natural crystals:


Polished Fluorite


Chrysanthemum Stone

Crystal Singing Bowls

Celestite Clusters

Polished flat stones


Black Tourmaline

Green Tourmaline

Golden Topaz

Pink Tourmaline

Clear Quartz Crystal Points

Top Grade Uruguayan Amethyst Clusters

Snowflake photography

Nowadays, crystals are produced artificially to satisfy the needs of science, technology and jewelry. The ability to grow high quality crystals has become an essential criteria for the competitiveness of nations. Crystals are solids in which the elementary building blocks, the atoms, are arranged regularly in a space lattice with specific geometrical symmetry elements. There is no ideal atomic lattice in nature, and it would be not very useful either. Certain imperfections of the chemical and structural atomic arrangement are essential for the usefulness and value of crystals. The artificial crystal kingdom can be divided into three sectors: -Technical crystals belong to one of the two big sectors of the single crystal market. They are widely present, often in hidden form. We eat crystals (salt, sugar), we use crystals as clocks in watches and computers (quartz), for information processing and storage (silicon), for switching TV-sets (gallium arsenide), for telecommunication (gallium arsenide) and for transport (turbine blades from nickel-aluminum compounds). Huge salt crystals (CaF2) are used as UV-light lenses in the submicron structuring during electronic device fabrication. - Jewellery forms the second big sector of the single crystal market. - The market of research crystals is relatively small but extremely diversified. Artificial research crystals of high quality are the basis of solid state research activities. Natural crystals are normally not sufficiently qualified for research purposes. Crystals are also required for modern light and particle scattering and diffraction instruments as monochromators and detectors. A broad range of geometrically well prepared crystals is required for thin film, catalysis and electrochemical studies.

Some artificial crystals:

Laser Crystals

Nd:YAG Nd:YAG for use in industrial, medical, military and scientific applications. YAG is grown utilizing the Czochralski technique. The as-grown crystals are then processed into laser rods or slabs, coated in house and inspected per customer specifications. Er:YAG Er:YAG is a crystal with a wide pump band of 600 800 nm. It has numerous applications in a wide range of medical and dental applications.

Cr, Tm, Ho:YAG Cr, Tm, Ho:YAG is a crystal material which lasers at 210nmm. This highly efficient crystal can be either flash-lamp or diode pumped and has applications in medical, military, and meteorological fields. Nd:YLF Nd:YLF as a standard product and produces YLF doped with other rare earths as required. YLF offers an alternative to the more common YAG host for near IR operation. Nd:YV04 Yttrium Vanadate (or orthovanadate) doped with Neodymium, Nd:YVO 4 , is a promising material for diode pumped lasers. Several advantages over Nd:YAG include a higher gain cross-section, lower threshold, a wider Nd absorption peak and polarized output. Alexandrite - ALLEXITETM Alexandrite is the leader of a class of tunable solidstate laser materials. Enhanced by several years of research and development, it features a broad wavelength tuning range of 710 - 800 nm with the capability to store and efficiently extract multijoule pulses of energy.

Er, Cr:YSGG YSGG (Yittrium Scandium Gallium Garnet) doped with Chromium and Erbium provides an efficient laser crystal for generating 2.8 micron light in an important water absorption band. Nd:GGG Nd:GGG (1061nm) (Gadolinium Gallium Garnet doped with Neodymium) for Military Laser Systems

Specialty Crystals

KTP (KTiOPO4 - Potassium Titanyl Phosphate) KTP can be used in applications such as Harmonic Generation for Frequency Doubling,Optical Parametric Oscillator, Electro-optic Pockels Cells and Quasi Phase Matching. Cr4+:YAG (Yttrium Aluminum Garnet doped with Chromium) Passive Q-switches or saturable absorbers provide high power laser pulses without electro-optic Qswitches, thereby reducing the package size and eliminating a high voltage power supply. Cr4+:YAG is more robust than dyes or color centers and is the material of choice for 1 micron Nd lasers. TGG (Terbium Gallium Garnet) Terbium Gallium Garnet (TGG) is a crystal material for optical isolator devices. Optical isolator devices make use of the non-reciprocal Faraday effect in TGG. The Faraday effect is the rotation of the plane of polarization of a light beam as it is transmitted through a TGG crystal in the presence of an external magnetic field coaxial with the light. Undoped YAG (Yttrium Aluminum Garnet)

Undoped YAG is a substrate material that can be used for both UV and IR optics. It is particularly useful for applications in the 2 - 3 m region where glasses tend to be highly absorbent due to the strong H2O band. Co:Spinel - Cobalt Spinel - Passive Q Switch Passive Q-switches or saturable absorbers generate high power laser pulses without the use of electrooptic Q-switches, thereby reducing the package size and eliminating a high voltage power supply. Co2+:Spinel (MgAI2O4) is the material of choice for the important eye-safe wavelengths near 1.5 microns. It has useful absorption that covers 1.2 to 1.6 micron laser transitions. Spinel is a hard, stable crystal that polishes well. Neodymium: Gadolinium Vanadate (Nd:GdVO4) Gadolinium vanadate doped with neodymium, Nd:GdVO4, is a promising material for diode pumped lasers. Like neodymium doped yttrium vanadate, the gadolinium vanadate exhibits a larger absorption and emission cross section compared to Nd:YAG Optical Assemblies

The quality and performance of our optical components are unparalleled in the industry. Faraday Rotators & Optical Isolators Laser users and designers are becoming increasingly aware of the detrimental effects of back reflections in their complex optical systems. Stray beams, instability and even component damage can result from these undesirable reflections. To combat unwanted back reflections, an optical isolator can be used. Air-Spaced Polarizers

Originally designed to conform to stringent military specifications, SYNOPTICS Air Spaced Polarizer is now being offered for commercial applications. The Air Spaced Polarizer is an alternative to calcite and Brewster-type polarizers.

Crystal growth techniques

Classifications of growth techniques based on formal expressions of the driving force for crystallization and on methods used to attain meta-stability of the mother phase. Growth of crystals from the melt: Czochralski (CZ), Kyropolous, Bridgman, Verneuil, Edge-defined film-fed growth (EFG), Stepanov (ST), Floating zone (FZ) methods. Growth of crystal from solution: hydrothermal method, crystal growth in gels, electro-crystallization. Growth in vapor phase: chemical vapor deposition (CVD), metallo-organic vapor phase epitaxy (MOVPE), etc.