Traceless mitigation of laser damage precursors on a fused silica surface by combining reactive ion beam etching with dynamic chemical etching
HF-based etching has been successful in mitigating damage precursors on the surface of fused silica optics used in high power lasers. However, wet etching generally leaves an etching trace leading to surface roughness, which seriously degrades laser beam quality (e.g., transmission loss and wave-front degradation). A way of addressing this issue is to apply plasma etching as a preprocessing step before HF etching, but so far very few studies have provided a practical scheme for engineering applications. In this work, we proposed a novel two-step scheme by combining reactive ion beam etching with dynamic chemical etching techniques. We demonstrate the combined scheme is capable of tracelessly mitigating the laser damage precursors on a fused silica surface. The 0% probability damage threshold obtained by combined etching is 1.4 times higher than that obtained by HF-based etching. The study opens a new approach towards high damage-resistant optics manufacturing and provides the potential possibility of exploring extreme interactions between high-power lasers and matter.