Ion exchange process is widely used to dope silicate glass layers with silver for several applications, ranging from light waveguide to nanostructured composite glass fabrication. The silver-doped structure and its physical properties depend on the preparation parameters as well as on subsequent treatments. In particular, laser irradiation of the ion exchanged glasses has been demonstrated to be an effective tool to control cluster size and size distribution. Nevertheless, a complete comprehension of the basic phenomena and a systematic characterization of these systems are still lacking. In this paper, an extended optical characterization is presented for soda-lime glass slides, doped with silver by Ag+–Na+ ion exchange, thermally treated and irradiated with a Nd:YAG laser beam at different wavelengths, and for different energy density. The samples were characterized by various spectroscopic techniques, namely, optical absorption, photoluminescence and micro-Raman analysis. The availability of all these characterization techniques allowed pointing out a suitable scenario for the Ag clustering evolution as a function of the ion exchange, annealing and laser irradiation parameters.
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