Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a thousand times more sensitive to subsequent wet chemical etching.


With the SLE technique, holes with particularly smooth edges can be bored through thin glass.

Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen.


Structuring process for glass using direct laser ablation with ultrafast laser pulses.

Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen / Volker Lannert.

This means it is possible to guide a laser beam focused to a diameter of a few micrometers through a glass block and subsequently etch a fine tube through the volume of the glass. The method can be used to create the tiniest of holes, to etch complete microfluidic systems into the glass, or to make cuts with extremely high surface quality.

Results from Femto Digital Photonic Production Research Project

Before this phenomenon can be harnessed in industrial processes, there are still many questions to be answered. What are the interaction processes? Which materials are suitable? What are the optimum processing parameters? What type of processing technology is needed?

Answering these questions is the main aim of the BMBF-funded Femto Digital Photonic Production joint research project. Since 2014, representatives of three research chairs at RTWH Aachen University and of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have been collaborating with six companies to study new phenomena that arise when processing transparent materials with ultrafast laser pulses.

The researchers have developed a demonstrator in which different materials and processing parameters can be compared. The procedure dubbed selective laser etching (SLE) has been tested for several different types of glass materials, including quartz glass, sapphire, BOROFLOAT 33 and Corning Willow. Etch selectivities of 1000:1 between laser-structured and unstructured areas were reached in BOROFLOAT 33, and roughly 100:1 in Willow glass.

The next Step: Improving Process Understanding

In the next phase of the project, lasting until 2019, understanding of the process will be deepened. In this regard, several experiments will be conducted at the Chair for Laser Technology LLT at RWTH Aachen University, with complex simulations running in parallel at the Nonlinear Dynamics of Laser Manufacturing Processes Instruction and Research Department NLD. The Chair for Technology of Optical Systems TOS will concentrate on optimizing the optics in the systems.

Researchers are working to develop the process technology in collaboration with three laser source manufacturers (Amphos, Edgewave and TRUMPF) and three system suppliers (4Jet, LightFab and Pulsar Photonics). Their goal is to develop multiple beam systems for large surface use as well as smaller systems for micro-processing.

LightFab GmbH, a start-up from former employees from the Chair of Laser Technology at the RWTH Aachen University, uses Selective Laser-induced Etching (SLE) to produce 3D precision parts made of quartz glass. Their machine that does this – the LightFab 3D Printer – was honored with the Prism Award at Photonics West 2016. This machine increases the productivity of the subtractive 3D printing of glass components for prototypes and series and, thanks to its high-speed modules, makes it possible to mass produce components with the SLE process.

Potential Applications from Biomedicine to Electronics

Already the project partners can see a multitude of potential applications for the technique. For microfluidics, it can produce not only channels in glass materials but also nozzles and other micro-components.

The technique also offers substantial advantages in drilling and cutting processes. Etching allows tension-free material ablation, which is advantageous for instance when manufacturing interposer structures in semiconductor technology. It can produce structures measuring under 10 µm. Meanwhile, new systems with high laser power and multi-beam optics hold major potential for reaching a high throughput.

Contact

M.Sc. Christian Kalupka
Project Coordinator for Femto Digital Photonic Production
Phone +49 241 8906-276
christian.kalupka@llt.rwth-aachen.de

Dipl.-Phys. Sebastian Nippgen
Group Manager for 3D Volume Structuring
Phone +49 241 8906-470
sebastian.nippgen@llt.rwth-aachen.de

Chair for Laser Technology LLT
RWTH Aachen University

Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
Steinbachstraße 15
52074 Aachen, Germany

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.llt.rwth-aachen.de
http://www.ilt.fraunhofer.de

Petra Nolis | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

Further reports about: Digital Photonic Production ILT Laser Lasertechnik Photonic SLE glass quartz glass ultrafast laser

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht No compromises: Combining the benefits of 3D printing and casting
23.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

nachricht Intelligent wheelchairs, predictive prostheses
20.12.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>