Complex 3D structures having lateral and depth resolutions of <1 µm and 20 nm, respectively, are fabricated in various polymers, including PMMA, ABS, CR-39, and others, by a direct photoablation process utilizing 172 nm radiation from flat microplasma-driven excimer lamps. The developed process does not require any toxic or photosensitive materials, and, therefore, may be performed outside of a clean room. The fabricated 3D structures may also serve as a master mold for PDMS and the curing of other materials.
Gratings, Fresnel lenses, phase masks, and waveguides are among the optical components that have been fabricated by 172 nm irradiation of various polymers through photomasks. Intensities above ~ 70 mW/cm^2 are now commercially available at 172 nm with flat Xe2 lamps. Such optical fluences are capable of precisely (< 500 nm lateral and 20 nm depth resolution) ablating a wide range of polymers, including PMMA and ABS, thereby allowing for a variety of 3D optical and biomedical components to be realized economically by dry processing.