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Towards dielectric material nano-morphing with ultra-fast lasers – Nanomorphing

Submission summary

The main objective of this program is the study and the optimization of direct ultrashort laser machining of dielectric materials. In addition to the development of a versatile tool for the realization of two and three-dimensional structures of the reduced size, this project will permit: - a better understanding of the interactions of ultrashort laser pulses with dielectric materials with laser intensity close to the ablation threshold, - to demonstrate the possibility of direct laser 'nano-machining' (<100 nm) with a high accuracy and reproducibility - to determine the smallest limit (<30 nm ?) achievable by this processing and the laser required parameters. The rapid development of very compact ultrashort laser systems has opened a wide variety of new and exciting possibilities for high precision material processing that cannot be realized with longer pulse laser systems. Numerous studies have demonstrated the advantages of ultrashort laser pulses (< 1 ps) compared with longer laser pulses in ablating solid materials. These advantages include the elimination of collateral damages, the reduction of the heat-affected zones, the deterministic damage threshold behaviour, and the ability to ablate sub-diffraction limited target regions (< 100 nm). This recent result is very exciting in terms of potential applications such as micro-electromechanical system construction and design, ultrahigh-density microelectronics, nano-fluidics, material science, optical memory, creation of structures to interface with cells and biological molecules, targeted disruption of intracellular structures, etc. At present, the challenge is to develop a practicable, reliable, reproducible and rapid nano-morphing process, and to found the limits of such technique in terms of smaller size structure and highest accuracy. However, to allow higher-precision nano-morphing and more control over the changes induced in the material, a better understanding of ultrashort laser-matter interactions and process dynamics has still to be obtained, and several problems in determining the threshold fluence and ablation depth are still to be solved. In the frame of this project named Nanomorphing, a particular emphasis will be put on the understanding of the underlying physical mechanisms of femtosecond laser nanomachining, since there is still a lack of knowledge about the dominant processes taking place during the different stages of energy absorption and redistribution to the laser-treated material. Such phenomena include the different ionisation channels depending on laser parameters and material properties, the laser energy absorption by electrons and its relaxation, the formation and influence of defects (excitons, colored centers), and the material removal mechanisms. Experimental studies will be performed with the use of very accurate diagnostic set-ups. These studies will be correlated with theoretical investigations, which will be carried out under a close collaboration to allow a better understanding of the complex physical mechanisms at work. The results of these fundamental studies will be then used to determine the smallest size of the treated area achievable by direct laser treatment in volume and on the surface. A particular attention will be focused on the reproducible properties of the results. The originality of the project resides in several aspects: in the considered physics, in the experimental and theoretical approaches to be used and in the complementary character of the partners. In terms of physics, we propose a complete fundamental study of all stages of laser interactions with dielectric materials with the final applied goal to minimize the size of the treated region. Because the laboratories involved in the project (LSI, LOA, LP3 and LaHC) are among the leaders in France in the considered field, we are convinced that the chances to succeed are very strong. The complementary character of the activities of these laboratories (fundamental physics, applied physics, industrial processing) is also a good guarantee of a rapid transfer of the developed techniques to the world of innovation. It should be emphasized that two of the partners are leaders of 'Platforms of laser micro-machining' with a very strong implication in French Poles of Competitivity. Finally, note that this project will also benefit of fruitful international collaborations of very high skilled researchers to reinforce the research work.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.



Help of the ANR 460,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 36 Months

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