Scientists working on laser etching microstructures into thin glass

  Science & technology

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.

Newsimagej.
Scientists working on laser etching microstructures into thin glass
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.
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...

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