Award-Winning Technology for Micro Processing of Glass

Glass is of great interest as a material due to its range of properties for a variety of applications in microsystems technology. Recent developments in the direction of very thin and partly flexible glasses with a material thickness of 50 μm to 500 μm enable new areas of application for one of the oldest materials produced by man. The processing of the material is a major challenge, especially with thin glass.

Micro-Cutting of ultra-thin glass (Source: LPKF)

Conventional machining processes leave microcracks and thermal stress behind, leading to a relatively high probability of component failure. This fact has limited the use of glass in microsystems technology. LPKF Laser & Electronics is now meeting the challenge of effective thin glass processing with the development of the laser-induced deep etching (LIDE) process.

Laser-induced deep etching is a two-stage process. In the first step, the glass is laser modified locally according to the desired layout using the LPKF Vitrion 5000 laser machine. The modified glasses are then etched wet-chemically. The modified areas of the glass are removed much faster than the unmodified material, so that the desired microstructures are created.

LIDE technology makes it possible to achieve modifications through the entire thickness of the glass with only single laser pulses. This is necessary to obtain deep structures such as through holes or micro-sections. The high-precision, mask-free laser machine can prepare more than 5,000 microloops per second or cuts at speeds of up to 100 mm/s. Typical aspect ratios are in the range of >1:10 and smallest structure sizes >10 μm can be realized.

The ceremony of Productronica Innovation Award 2017 with representatives of LPKF and the jury (Source: Messe München)

Since the LIDE process sets new standards in quality and productivity, it may even become a new basic technology for a wide range of microsystems technology applications. It could thus transform entire process chains in production. For example, thin glass is an excellent starting material for high-density circuit carriers in microelectronics. In this case, the LIDE process can insert the micro holes for through-plating into the glass substrate.

At the same time, micromechanical components can also be produced with this process. Glass has excellent mechanical properties when processed without stress and micro-cracks. And this is what the LIDE process achieves. LIDE-treated glass also offers new options for microfluidics: In the future, filters or flow straighteners made of glass could also become reality.

The LIDE system Vitrion 5000 from LPKF was honored in the category semiconductor at the Productronica fair. (Source: LPKF)

Link: LPKF Laser & Electronics AG, Garbsen, Germany

Further reading: Productronica Sets Standards in Electronics Production,, 27th November 2017

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