Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

KOMET: radially polarized laser beam enables maximum precision and efficiency in laser materials processing

29.07.2009
The annual output of solar cells fabricated with silicon ribbons in Germany amounts to approx. 50 million wafers, and this figure is expected to rise to 500 million wafers by 2012.

This trend will require manufacturers to expand their production capacity while maintaining superlative levels of quality and economic efficiency. Companies from the solar cell technology business and laser specialists involved in fine cutting have joined forces to tackle this challenge in the cooperation project KOMET. One of the aims of the project is to use a newly developed laser concept to increase the throughput of the silicon cells by up to 50% while significantly improving the quality of the products.

February 18, 2009, saw the start of the collaborative project KOMET, which is funded by the German federal ministry of economics and technology (BMWi). The name gives a clue as to what the project aims to develop: a "Compact solid-state laser for efficient material ablation with radially polarized light". Participants in the project include the research institutes Laser-Laboratorium Göttingen LLG, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT and the Chair of Informatics at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, as well as seven industry partners. Together, they are planning to develop a modular solid-state laser for precision cutting and drilling by 2012 that features significantly improved beam quality and an increase in cutting efficiency of up to 50%.

When it comes to the quality and efficiency of laser materials processing, a key role is played by the polarization state of the radiation beam, in other words the direction of oscillation of its electric field. This dictates various factors including its focusability. Up to now, fine cutting of brittle-hard materials such as silicon has made use of a laser with a circularly polarized beam. In contrast to a linearly polarized beam, the quality of the cut is not dependent on the cutting direction: a laser beam with circular polarization can achieve results in industrial applications that represent the state of the art.

Greater cost-effectiveness thanks to higher coupling efficiency.

This is where the KOMET project comes into its own: in order to further enhance the coupling efficiency and focusability of the laser beam independent of cutting direction, the partners in the project are now planning to employ radially polarized light. A radially polarized laser beam demonstrates up to 30% better absorption than a circularly polarized beam, thereby reducing coupling losses. Radially symmetric polarization leads to significant improvements in cutting quality.

The example of solar technology clearly reveals some of the concrete benefits that can be obtained using this innovative concept. 200 micrometer-thin silicon cells (silicon ribbon) are currently manufactured with a kerf width of around 10 micrometers. By using a laser with a radially polarized beam, it is possible to significantly optimize this cutting process in terms of both its efficiency and quality: the cutting process can be accelerated by up to 50%, thereby achieving a corresponding boost in production capacity. Moreover, the cutting precision obtained is substantially higher. Under optimum conditions, the focusing point of the radially polarized beam is up to 60% smaller than that of conventional lasers. This allows the usable surface area of the material being processed to be maximized. The new system also holds great interest for laser dicing of silicon wafers.

The first step is being taken by the overall coordinator of the project, LLG, who will develop an external polarizer to generate radially polarized light. A series of preliminary tests are then set to be carried out by the researchers from Göttingen in collaboration with the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg to examine and optimize the polarizer's functionality, subsequent to which the polarizer will be made available to the Fraunhofer ILT for experimental trials. In Aachen, the intention is then to test the prototype under conditions similar to those of normal production using the equipment available on site. "In collaboration with our project partners from industry, we will be using the radially polarized laser to carry out experimental cutting of workpieces. Thanks to our expertise and equipment in the field of measuring technology we can then certify the components, thereby laying the bridge between research and the end user," explains Dr. Jens Schüttler, the KOMET project leader at the Fraunhofer ILT. In a further step, the consortium is planning to make a powerful solid-state laser available for industrial use, which will not require any external devices to produce radial polarization. At a wavelength of 1064 nm, the laser will be designed with an output power of a few 100 mW (master oscillator) or of up to 30 W (power amplifier), respectively. Medical engineering is a further field of application for this innovative laser concept, in particular the precise machining of stents.

The following industry partners are involved in the KOMET project: InnoLas GmbH, WACKER SCHOTT Solar GmbH, ADMEDES Schuessler GmbH, Advanced Laser Separation International N.V., LAS-CAD GmbH, FEE GmbH and Schumacher Elektromechanik GmbH.

Your contacts at the Fraunhofer ILT
Our experts are on hand to answer your questions:
Dr. Jens Schüttler
Department of Modeling and Simulation
Phone +49 241 8906-680
jens.schuettler@ilt.fraunhofer.de
Dipl.-Ing. Andreas Dohrn
Department of Microstructuring
Phone +49 241 8906-202
andreas.dohrn@ilt.fraunhofer.de
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz
Head of the Department of Modeling and Simulation
Phone +49 241 8906-204
wolfgang.schulz@ilt.fraunhofer.de
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
Steinbachstrasse 15
52074 Aachen
Phone +49 241 8906-0
Fax +49 241 8906-121

Axel Bauer | Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
Further information:
http://www.ilt.fraunhofer.de
http://www.ilt.fraunhofer.de/eng/100031.html

Further reports about: ILT Komet LLG Modeling laser beam laser system polarized light silicon wafer

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht New manufacturing process for SiC power devices opens market to more competition
14.09.2017 | North Carolina State University

nachricht Quick, Precise, but not Cold
17.05.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>