Femtosecond Laser Printer for Glass Microsystems with Nanoscale Features

Summary
The aim of Femtoprint is to develop a printer for microsystems with nano-scale features, so as to give a range of users from industry, research institutes and universities the ability to produce their own micro-systems rapidly and without the need for expensive infrastructure and specialist knowledge. Recent research has shown that it is possible to form three-dimensional patterns in glass material using low-power femtosecond laser beams. The patterns produced are used to form integrated optics components or three-dimensional structures such as fluidic channels and micro-mechanical components. This simple manufacturing process opens avenues for a broad variety of microsystems with nano-scale features. Thanks to the low amounts of energy required to pattern the glass, it is enough to use femtosecond lasers consisting of only one oscillator to produce these micro- and nano-systems. Nowadays, these systems are of table-top size and cost a fraction of the price of conventional clean-room equipment. It is even foreseeable that within three to five years, they will be small enough to fit inside a shoebox. A clear outcome of Femtoprint will be the commercialisation of the ‘femtoprinter’ through the creation of a consortium spin-off. Potential economic impacts are considerable and expected to benefit various industrial sectors such as the biotechnologies, telecommunications, precision industries, microsystems and electronics industries. The project team will pursue three main objectives: • Development of a femtosecond laser which is suitable for glass that can be manufactured on a micro/nano scale. • Incorporation of the laser into a machine similar to a printer which is able to position and manipulate glass sheets of various thicknesses. • Demonstration of the printer’s ability to generate a variety of micro/nano-systems with optical, mechanical and fluid-handling capabilities. Contact: Mr. Yves Bellouard ( yves.bellouard @epfl. ch )
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