Space fabrication seeds for industrial processing
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SAP and mSAP in Flexible Circuit Fabrication
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Thus, ultrafast lasers are currently used widely for both fundamental research and practical applications. This review describes the characteristics of ultrafast laser processing and the recent advancements and applications of both surface and volume processing.
Surface processing includes micromachining, micro- and nanostructuring, and nanoablation, while volume processing includes two-photon polymerization and three-dimensional 3D processing within transparent materials.
Commercial and industrial applications of ultrafast laser processing are also introduced, and a summary of the technology with future outlooks are also given. Materials processing using ultrafast lasers, lasers that emit light pulses shorter than a few tens of picoseconds, was first reported in by Srinivasan et al. The ablation threshold was significantly lower than that for nanosecond laser ablation. These experiments had a significant impact and the research in this field was rapidly expanded in the s.
In addition, development of the chirped-pulse amplification technique in Ti:sapphire regenerative amplifiers, 3 which emit energetic femtosecond pulses without inducing damage or undesirable nonlinear effects in the amplification medium, further accelerated fundamental research on ultrafast laser processing.
One important feature of ultrafast laser processing is that it reduces heat diffusion to surrounding regions of the processed area. Furthermore, suppression of heat diffusion to the surroundings improves the spatial resolution for nanoscale processing. Currently, internal microfabrication is widely applied to the fabrication of photonic devices and biochips.
A robust, stable and very compact fiber chirped pulse amplifier was also developed in the s, 28 which facilitated the application of this research.
More recently, a rare earth-doped laser medium was adopted to realize a compact and high-power ultrafast laser system by diode pumping, although the pulses were much broader than pulses generated by Ti:sapphire systems. In the s, ultrafast laser processing is thus becoming a more reliable tool for practical and industrial applications. Here we provide a comprehensive review of ultrafast laser processing including surface micromachining, micro- and nanostructuring, nanoablation, and 3D and volume processing after discussion of the ultrafast laser processing characteristics.
We then introduce commercial applications of ultrafast laser processing before a final summary and outlook are given. Materials processing with ultrafast lasers provides unique advantages over conventional laser processing techniques that typically employ nanosecond and longer pulses.
Shortening of the pulse duration to a time scale shorter than a couple of picoseconds fundamentally changes the physics behind the interaction of laser with the solid, which results in rapid and precise energy deposition into the materials. During ultrafast laser irradiation, the excitation of carriers first occurs within hundreds of femtosecond by the absorption of photons.
At this stage, the lattice remains largely undisturbed. Efficient energy transfer from the electrons to the lattice occurs by electron-lattice scattering after the end of the laser pulse. Thermal diffusion to the surrounding area of the laser-irradiated region can thus be eliminated as heat transfer by bulk thermal conduction occurs on a time scale longer than the electron—phonon coupling time.
The suppression of thermal diffusion has important implications for the laser processing of materials. Materials processing with lasers results in phase and structural modifications induced by the interaction of light with a material.
In an ideal case based on photolysis, the spatial resolution is simply determined by carrier excitation within the focal spot. However, when pulses with durations of nanosecond and longer are used, such ideal resolution cannot be achieved due to thermal diffusion.
These difficulties inherent to conventional laser processing can be overcome with ultrafast laser materials processing. When processing transparent materials such as glass and wide-bandgap crystals with ultrafast laser pulses, the excitation of electrons from the valence band to the conduction band is initiated through nonlinear processes such as multiphoton or tunnel ionization.
Although this is also possible to achieve with nanosecond lasers, in this case, the initial seed electrons are mainly generated by the contribution of defects and impurities, which causes the statistical character of laser-induced optical breakdown. Employing ultrafast lasers in materials processing can thus significantly reduce the fluctuation associated with the optical breakdown threshold and lead to improved reproducibility and control over the processing parameters.
The synergetic contribution of the deterministic optical breakdown characteristics and the suppression of thermal diffusion provide a unique chance to realize deterministic nanoscale subdiffraction-limited fabrication with ultrafast lasers when there is an intensity threshold only above which a photoreaction occurs upon absorption.
Thus, the modified zone area can be limited to only the central area of the focal spot by adjusting the laser intensity to match the threshold intensity, as shown in Figure 1a. If the laser intensity is adjusted to match the straight solid line shown in Figure 1b with the threshold intensity for a reaction, then the resolution for fabrication can be reduced to two-fifths of the original beam width.
Thermal diffusion in ultrafast laser microprocessing is negligible; therefore, the combination of high-numerical aperture focusing and the threshold effect has enabled deep subwavelength fabrication resolutions that are far beyond the diffraction limit. However, in practice, due to the fluctuation of the output power of the femtosecond laser, the fabrication process will become extremely unstable when the laser intensity is near the threshold intensity.
Thus, a compromise has to be made between improving the resolution and maintaining the stability of the fabrication process. The solid horizontal line indicates the reaction threshold. One of the most exciting features of ultrafast laser processing is the unique 3D capability to process within transparent materials in a space selective manner. This is enabled by the nonlinear nature of the ultrafast laser interaction with the transparent material, which confines the modification to only that within the focal volume.
Combining a tight focus scheme which is necessary to avoid self-focusing and to ensure high axial resolution and direct writing, this approach has allowed for a wide variety of phase and structural changes inside materials, such as refractive index modification, 11 the formation of nanovoids and periodic nanogratings, 38 , 39 element redistribution, 40 nanocrystallization 41 and nonreciprocal writing. Ultrafast lasers suppress thermal diffusion and thus reduce HAZ formation, even in high thermal conductivity materials such as metals.
In contrast, nanosecond laser ablation produces significant swelling around the ablated hole due to melting. Ultrafast lasers can perform high quality micromachining of even brittle materials such as glass. Both images reveal that clean ablation with sharp edges was achieved without the formation of cracks. The ultrafast lasers have already been used or are being considered for use in practical applications such as substrate scribing, hole drilling, surface patterning and stent fabrication, as introduced later.
SEM images of a a micromachined surface and b a glass material cut by femtosecond laser ablation Courtesy of M.
SEM, scanning electron microscopy. A variety of micro- and nanoscale structures are dependent on processing parameters such as the beam intensity, spatial and temporal beam profiles, wavelength, polarization, and the processing environment ambient gas or liquid that can be formed on the material surface. The most well-known textured structure is nanoripples, which are formed by ultrafast laser irradiation with a fluence near the ablation threshold.
Periodic grating structures, the so-called laser-induced periodic surface structures, are formed by irradiating materials with linearly polarized nanosecond or longer laser pulses.
Consequently, ripples are generally oriented perpendicular to the incident polarization. Various mechanisms, including the self-organization of surface instability, 22 second-harmonic generation, 52 refractive index change, 55 nanoplasma formation 56 and the excitation of surface plasmon polaritons, 57 have been proposed for the formation of nanoripples; however, no consensus has been reached until now. Surface nanoripples produced by femtosecond laser irradiation can be applied to reduce the friction between moving components, reduce the adhesive force of micro- and nanocomponents and increase the adhesion of thin films and medical implants.
Another interesting and useful texture formed by ultrafast laser irradiation is regular arrays of conical microstructures, which can be produced on Si by irradiation with hundreds of femtosecond laser pulses in a halogen atmosphere e. The ability of ultrafast laser processing to reduce the formation of HAZ and thereby suppress heat diffusion means that nanoablation can be performed with subwavelength resolution or less in combination with a well-defined processing threshold.
In addition, the use of nonlinear multiphoton absorption can further enhance the spatial resolution compared with single-photon absorption at the same wavelength when irradiated with a Gaussian beam, because the effective absorption coefficient for n -photon absorption is proportional to the n th power of the laser intensity.
In principle, the fabrication resolution can be improved as much as desired with no limitation by employing the threshold effect with precise control of the laser intensity. Therefore, it is difficult to reproducibly realize superhigh resolution over a long range. This problem can be overcome by combining the threshold effect and the formation of a periodic nanograting.
A nanoscale periodic grating is formed inside glass when irradiated with a linearly polarized beam, 39 which means that the energy deposition inside glass is spatially modulated with nanoscale periodicity at the focal spot, as shown in Figure 6a.
When the femtosecond laser intensity is intentionally reduced to a level at which only the intensity in the blue region of Figure 6a exceeds the threshold intensity, only a single cycle of the modulated energy distribution in the central area of the focal volume can be selected.
It is noteworthy that in such a case, the peak laser intensity at the center of the focal spot is still much greater than the laser intensity at the edge of the blue zone i. Another approach to nanofabrication is the development of novel irradiation methods that can also overcome the diffraction limit of the focused laser beam by using optical near fields.
Combining a femtosecond laser beam with nanotips in scanning-probe microscopes such as scanning near-field optical microscopes, scanning tunneling microscopes and atomic force microscopes permits patterning with nanoscale resolution.
This method can be used to fabricate nanoholes on various material surfaces including semiconductors, metals and dielectrics. Polymers are a cost-effective material for rapid prototyping. The dominant approach to high-resolution 3D fabrication with polymer materials is TPP, of which the concept is schematically illustrated in Figure 7. The TPP technique is based on the two-photon absorption of femtosecond laser pulses in a photosensitive resin, which only occurs in the central region of the focal spot where the laser intensity exceeds the TPP threshold.
TPP is now one of the major approaches to laser-based 3D printing with nanometer scale feature sizes. The basic concept, characteristics, range of materials and potential applications have already been reviewed. Schematic diagram of the fabrication process for femtosecond laser-induced TPP.
One prominent feature of the TPP technique is the high fabrication resolution achieved by use of the threshold effect. The axial resolution is usually significantly poorer, typically by a factor of three, due to the longitudinal intensity distribution within the focal spot.
Inspired by the concept of stimulated emission depletion microscopy, Li et al. The stimulated emission depletion microscopy was originally developed for the far-field nano-imaging of live cells. To reduce the width of the lines, another laser beam the deactivation beam is operated at the same wavelength, but in the continuous wave mode, and is superimposed on the activation beam with a suitable lateral offset to deactivate the photoinitiator.
With the deactivation beam, depletion of photopolymerization can be realized as a result of the metastable intermediate energy states of the photoinitiators. Thus, the portions of polymer lines written by both activation and deactivation beams are much thinner than those obtained with only the activation beam. The substrate is translated perpendicular to the separation axis to fabricate polymer lines. When the deactivation beam was chopped, the linewidth was significantly thicker.
The reliable nanoscale resolution and 3D fabrication capability of the TPP technique has resulted in wide attention for diverse applications, including integrated photonics e.
The nanoparticles can be either synthesized prior to filling into the resin, or synthesized in situ within the resin by exposure to the femtosecond laser. Functionalization can even be achieved by filling the resin with biomaterials. Recently, Sun et al. Figure 9 shows that the protein microlens becomes swollen when immersed in a buffer solution, and the degree of deformation is dependent on the pH of the buffer.
Such unique protein-based microoptical devices are dynamically tunable and biocompatible. Focal distance of a protein microlens as a function of pH.
The inset SEM images show the protein microlens after change in the pH. Note: the initial radius and height of the lens fabricated at pH 7. This opens up new avenues for the fabrication of a variety of integrated microdevices for applications such as integrated photonics, optofluidics, optomechanics, optoelectronics and biomedicines. The successful construction of integrated microdevices is mainly achieved using two approaches: writing of optical waveguides along 3D paths by locally altering the refractive index and the formation of hollow microfluidic structures by local enhancement of the etch rate, which facilitates subsequent removal of the material in the modified region by wet chemical etching.
In most cases, the direct writing scheme is adopted because it offers the maximum degree of flexibility in terms of the length and geometry of the fabricated structures.
Making Stuff in Space: Off-Earth Manufacturing Is Just Getting Started
This is an excellent question. These acronyms are getting a lot of attention lately and are relatively new acronyms for the PCB industry, which ironically is infamous for using them. SAP and mSAP are not new terms to the electronics industry, they are common processes in IC substrate fabrication, but these are processes that are emerging technology in the PCB fabrication segment. After saying this is new technology for PCB fabrication, I am reminded that most of our smartphones contain circuit boards that use this technology. But outside of the high-volume, smartphone market, the rest of us are slowly starting to learn about and implement this technology for flexible circuits, rigid-flex and rigid PCB applications.
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Ultrafast lasers—reliable tools for advanced materials processing
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Space is a dangerous place for humans: Microgravity sets our fluids wandering and weakens muscles, radiation tears through DNA and the harsh vacuum outside is an ever-present threat. But for materials that show incredible strength, transmit information with barely any loss, form enormous crystals or even grow into organs, the harshness of space can be the perfect construction zone. As the cost of spaceflight goes down, more of these materials may become cost-effective to make or study in space. And soon, more and more people might be carrying around objects built off the planet. We make steel by heating things up at high temperature and maybe, depending on the steel, [in a] high-pressure environment. We can quench things; we can make things cold to make different materials or improve on those materials. In space, microgravity lets materials grow without encountering walls, and it allows them to mix evenly and hold together without traditional supports. And a nearby ultrahigh vacuum helps things form without impurities.
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SAP and mSAP are not new terms to the electronics industry, they are common processes in IC substrate fabrication, but these are processes that are emerging technology in the PCB fabrication segment. These acronyms are getting a lot of attention lately and are relatively new acronyms for the PCB industry, which ironically is infamous for using them. After saying this is new technology for PCB fabrication, I am reminded that most of our smartphones contain circuit boards that use this technology. But outside of the high-volume, smartphone market, the rest of us are slowly starting to learn about and implement this technology for flexible circuits, rigid flex and rigid PCB applications.
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