The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences features a report on how University of Michigan researchers have used a femtosecond pulsed laser to do extraordinarily precise nanoscale machining.
Alan Hunt, assistant professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering said that the technique could be used “from microelectronics applications to MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) to microfluidics" in building and machining these tiny devices.
An ultra-short pulsed laser used at a very high intensity has unique physical properties and can selectively ablate features as small as 20 nanometers. Unlike electron beam lithography and photolithography, the femtosecond pulse laser allows machining in 3D. "If we have three channels on a plane, we can link the outer two without cutting into the center one, we can go down over and up, we can cut a U-shape," Hunt said. "Not being constrained to one plane, the level of complexity that can be achieved is much greater."