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Aerospace

Laser-induced backward transfer

 

The area of 3D additive manufacturing has taken both industry and the general public by storm during the past decade. It is no exaggeration to say that the world has seen a revolution in such rapid production techniques, where objects can be designed via a computer, then printed on demand either at home or in an industrial setting. Costs are coming down, the materials that can be printed are no longer restricted to easily meltable plastics, and parts can be produced that have feature sizes at the ~100μm level, in materials of immediate industrial use, such as aluminium, titanium and alloys.

The benefits of additive manufacturing are flexibility to design and print on demand, reduction of transport costs in delivering products across the globe, and the fact that the technology can be readily adopted by small-scale manufacturers, SMEs and large commercial enterprises alike. Researchers at the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton have been developing a novel laser-based transfer of microscale materials that enables extremely high-quality, targeted deposition of a range of thin film substrates that can have ~100nm surface features. This technique is currently being investigated for a range of industrial applications.

 

Technological advantages of this novel laser-based deposition technique

Technology roadmap

This deposition technique can be used to deposit specific materials at specified positions in an intact form that can also preserve existing templated features, 2D properties and structural integrity, as well as showing sufficient conformity to the receiving substrate. The team is currently investigating the printing onto waveguides (in silica and silicon), optical fibres (side-walls, end facets and exposed inner core), onto silicon photonic structures such as resonant ring resonators, onto surface acoustic wave devices to enhance their sensitivity and selectivity, and onto (and into) premachined substrates such as gratings, vias and integrated photonic structures. In addition, the team is working with two UK laser materials processing companies in order to provide the vital validation of the technique when applied to practical material-specific goals.

Collaboration opportunity

If you are interested in contract research opportunities, project partnerships or trial manufacturing, or would just like to learn more, please contact Dr Ben Mills bm602@orc.soton.ac.uk or Professor Rob Eason rwe@orc.soton.ac.uk at the Optoelectronics Research Centre www.orc.soton.ac.uk

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