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Magnifier for industrial laser masking techniques

Development of a magnifier to improve the overall efficiency
of industrial laser surface materials removal by masking
techniques.

Fast and precise generation of patterns, such as electronic circuits and micromechanics by removal of thin surface layers without damaging the properties of the generated patterns, requires material removal techniques based upon chemical reactions or photon interactions. Photon interactions with matter can be accomplished using short high power pulses from lasers such as excimer-lasers or TEA-CO2 lasers. The desired patterns can then be generated on the surface by applying simple masks, through which some of the laser light is transmitted and the openings of the mask are projected to the target. By using a single laser pulse in the range of 1 microsecond, fine patterns with linewidths in the range of 1 micrometer can be produced. However, when masking techniques are used, normally most of the laser light will be lost as it is reflected from the mask, which often has only a 5-20% open area. In other words, first expensive energy is generated in a high-tech product: the laser, then most of this energy is lost in a simple masking system before it reaches the target. The productivity of a laser masking system is expressed in mm2 processed area per pulse and pulses per second. This is in general proportional to power transmitted to the target. To improve the productivity of such a system, either the average power of the laser must be raised or the relative transmission through the mask must be improved. Another important issue to address, when systems for such types of "microetching" are considered, is the obtainable spatial resolution on the target. In the case of laser masking with short pulses with a certain laser wavelength, this depends upon the divergence of the light emerging through each opening in the mask. In the case of laser masking this angle is normally small, leading to some diffraction in between mask and target, reducing the sharpness of the image on the target. The objective of this project is to develop a passive masking magnifier, which will improve the transmission of the laser light through the mask. The objective here is to: - increase the overall productivity of laser masking systems with a factor of 2.5 or more (depending on the % of open mask area) - improve the sharpness of the generated images on the target to minimize the linewidth of the patterns generated on the target. The project is pre-competitive as the developed test equipment will be laboratory set-ups, which will be flexible in order for the different dimensions to be optimised. Afterwards, the project prototypes must be developed for projects, where most dimensions are fixed and the requirements of industrial products in terms of encapsulation, rigidity, reliability and flexibility (e.g. easy mask exchange) must be addressed. Following the completion of this project a 1 to 2 year product development period is envisaged before the product can be marketed.
Acronym: 
MILMATE
Project ID: 
1 164
Start date: 
01-02-1995
Project Duration: 
48months
Project costs: 
1 640 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.