The ability to produce true 3-D actuator components at the micro- and nanoscale has been the focus of increasing interest in the last decade due to the potential for creating a wide class of structures, devices, and components for an array of applications.
However, most efforts to date have relied on traditional silicon-based photolithographic techniques which were originally developed for the microelectronics industry decades ago and suffer from a number of inherent limitations.
Navy researchers have developed a method for laser deformation of a film on a flat plane into a 3-D component. A transparent substrate is coated with a release layer that absorbs the laser energy. A component to be deformed is attached to the release layer opposed to the substrate. A laser is directed through the substrate and into a portion of the release layer, which vaporizes the portion and releases a piece of the component from the substrate.
This process requires a means for patterning the 2-D structures, which may be accomplished via photolithographic techniques, laser micro-machining, contact transfer, stamping, or embossing. The pre-patterned features are then partially irradiated by a laser source resulting in their being propelled out of plane thus generating a 3-D structure.
In addition to producing 3-D thin film configurations, the process may also be used to raise entire pre-patterned or pre-positioned devices out of the substrate plane as well by mounting these devices on the films being raised. Applications for this process include the fabrication of individual devices and components or arrays of devices for optical, electronic, and microelectromechanical systems.
- Transforming 2-D planar micro/nano-scale structures into complex 3-D components while preserving intrinsic material properties and device performance
- Process is highly controllable and due to the underlying process mechanisms, should be compatible with any ductile thin film material
- The process is essentially non-thermal as it only requires a single nanosecond laser pulse for operation greatly reducing effects from thermal cycling or sustained high temperatures eliminating any deleterious material effects that can occur
- US patent 9,895,767 available for license
- Potential for collaboration with Navy researchers