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The University of Southampton

Research project: Laser-Induced Forward Transfer (LIFT) nano-printing process: multiscale modelling, experimental validation and optimization

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Laser-Induced Forward Transfer (LIFT) is a direct-write microfabrication and micro/nano printing technique that has received much attention in the research communities and inustries in recent years.  It offers signficant advantages over other competing printing methodologies and has potential applications in many high-tech high-value industries.  However questions remain regarding how to select a small set of experimentally controllable parameters to produce the finest, the most uniform, the most desirable single printed feature and print arrays.

Conventional macroscopic modelling methods do not directly lend the solution to the LIFT problem, due to the truly multiscale and mutiphysics features of LIFT.  The most promising approach for LIFT is the LBM, which can be viewed as a coarse-grained molecular dynamics approach, albeit with very different numerial algorithms and affordable computational expenses for real-world problems.  LBM preserves the microscopic kinetic principles while recovering the full Navier-Stokes equations at the macroscales.  Therefore, LBM bridges the existing and further experimental measurements conducted at the state-of-the-art FASTlab facilities here at Southampton.  This is built upon the recent successes of researchers in simulating some isolated sub-processes relevant to LIFT using LBM. 

The novelty and significance of the proposed multiscale LBM approach is its ability to simulate the systematic manner in order of increasing sophistication.  First, an isothermal multiphase LBM model is employed to isolate the multiphase flow dynamics effects from the thermal effects.  Then a thermal multiphase LBM is tested for LIFT processes to determine the capabilities and limitations of the current (pure) LBM methodologies. 

The focus of this project is to develop a new multiscale LBM approach to study laser heating, donor material melting, heat conduction, thermal expansion and re-solidification.  Such a multiscale approach couples LBM seamlessly with a macroscopic Navier-Stokes solver, taking advantage of each method's scale-resolving capability and numerical efficiency in different ranges of the Reynolds and Knudsen numbers.  Finally, Marangoni effects will be investigated by incorporating temperature-dependent surface tension into the LBM modelling.  The Maragoni effects are believed to affect the final morphology of the pritned features but have not been studied in detail before.  The final phase is to create the finest optimized features of a single printed dot and print arrays following first principles and modelling guidance.

Related research groups

Energy Technology
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