Pulsed laser ablation is a valuable tool that offers a much cleaner and more flexible etching process than conventional lithographic techniques. Although much research has been undertaken on commercially available polymers, many challenges still remain, including contamination by debris on the surface, a rough etched appearance and high ablation thresholds. Functionalizing polymers with a photosensitive group is a novel way and effective way to improve the efficiency of laser micromachining. In this study, several polyurethane films grafted with different concentrations of the chromophore anthracene have been synthesized which are specifically designed for 248 nm KrF excimer laser ablation. A series of lines etched with a changing number of pulses and fluences by the nanosecond laser were applied to each polyurethane film. The resultant ablation behaviours were studied through optical interference tomography and Scanning Electron Microscopy. The anthracene grafted polyurethanes showed a vast improvement in both edge quality and the presence of debris compared with the unmodified polyurethane. Under the same laser fluence and number of pulses the spots etched in the anthracene contained polyurethane show sharp depth profiles and smooth surfaces, whereas the spots etched in polyurethane without anthracene group grafted present rough cavities with debris according to the SEM images. The addition of a small amount of anthracene (1.47%) shows a reduction in ablation threshold from unmodified polyurethane showing that the desired effect can be achieved with very little modification to the polymer.
G. W. J. Brodie, H. Kang, F. J. MacMillan, J. Jin, and M. C. Simpson, "Functionalised polyurethane for efficient laser micromachining," Proc. SPIE 10092, Laser-based Micro- and Nanoprocessing XI, 100921I (Presented at SPIE LASE: February 03, 2017; Published: 17 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253201.
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