Micro-machining using 157 nm Laser Pulses
04/12/2003

The LZH has developed a micro-machining station that can exploit the potential of vacuum-ultraviolet excimer laser radiation at 157 nm, for producing extremely small and precise structures. With this technology, it is possible to make finest structures or cuts in materials such as quartz glass or Teflon.

Since the "hard" protons of this wavelength are absorbed by the oxygen in the air, the laser beam must either be guided through extremely clean inert gases (nitrogen, helium), or in a vacuum. Both methods are possible using the new 157 nm micro-machining station.

This micro-machining station can be used for a variety of different applications and investigations. A 4-axis precision handling system (three linear and one rotational axis) can be employed to move the sample relative to the laser beam, with sub-micrometer resolution. Absolute positioning accuracies within a few micrometers are possible, using microscopic optics integrated into the machining chamber.

Different techniques can be used for beam forming. A 4-axis piezo-driven CMC mask can generate ablation areas with a variable lateral size. In addition, rotating masks can be used for drilling, or for forming rotationally symmetrical, 3-dimensional topographies. Special masks can also be made for customer-specific ablation forms.

Application fields for 157 nm micro-machining can be found especially in photonics. Illustration XXX shows a phase transmission grid with a period of 3 µm, generated on the end of a quartz glass fiber. This combination of a light waveguide and an optical element can be used to increase the integration density in optical systems, and at the same time to reduce the number of optical elements necessary. Other fields of application include micro-fluidics, or lab-on-chip techniques, where this wavelength can be used to drill precise holes or canals.

Business Development & Communications Department
Michael Botts
Public Relations
Tel.: +49 511 2788-151
Fax: +49 511 2788-100
The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) carries out research and development in the field of laser technology and is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport of the State of Lower Saxony (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Verkehr).