We report on recent progress in developing an industrially relevant, robust technique to bond dissimilar materials through ultra-fast microwelding. This technique is based on the use of a 5.9ps, 400kHz Trumpf laser operating at 1030nm. Tight focusing of the laser radiation at, or around, the interface between two materials allows for simultaneous absorption in both. This absorption rapidly, and locally, heats the material forming plasma from both materials. With suitable surface preparation this plasma can be confined to the interface region where it mixes, cools and forms a weld between the two materials.
The use of ps pulses results in a short interaction time. This enables a bond to form whilst limiting the heat affected zone (HAZ) to a region of only a few hundred micrometres across. This small scale allows for the bonding of materials with highly dissimilar thermal properties, and in particular coefficients of thermal expansion e.g. glass-metal bonding.
We report on our results for a range of material combinations including, Al-Bk7, Al-SiO2 and Nd:YAG-AlSi. Emphasis will be laid on the technical requirements for bonding including the required surface preparation of the two materials and on the laser parameters required. The quality of the resultant bonds are characterized through shear force measurements (where strengths equal to and exceeding equivalent adhesives will be presented). The lifetime of the welds is also discussed, paying particular attention to the results of thermal cycling tests.
We report on practical, industrially relevant, welding of optical components to themselves and aluminum alloy components. Weld formation is achieved through the tight focusing of a 5.9ps, 400kHz Trumpf laser operating at 1030nm. By selecting suitable surface preparation, clamping and laser parameters, the plasma can be confined, even with comparatively rough surfaces, by exploiting the melt properties of the glass. The short interaction time allows for a permanent weld to form between the two materials with heating limited to a region ~300 µm across. Practical application of these weld structures is typically limited due to the induced stress within the glass and, critically, the issues surrounding post-weld thermal expansion. We report on the measured strength of the weld, with a particular emphasis on laser parameters and surface preparation.
Techniques for joining materials, especially optical materials such as glass to structural materials such as metals, or to other optical materials, while maintaining their surface and optical properties are essential for a wide range of industrial applications. Adhesive bonding is commonly used but leads to many issues including optical surface contamination and outgassing. It is possible to generate welds using an ultra-short pulsed laser process, whereby two flat material surfaces are brought into close contact and the laser is focused through the optical material onto the interface. Highly localised melting and rapid resolidification form a strong bond between the two surfaces whilst avoiding significant heating of the surrounding material, which is important for joining materials with different thermal expansion coefficients. Previous reports on ultrafast laser welding have identified a requirement for the surface separation gap to be less than 500nm in order to avoid cracking or ablation at the interface. We have investigated techniques for increasing this gap (to reduce weld fit-up problems), and tested by bonding two surfaces with a weld-controlled gap. These gaps were generated either by a series of etched grooves on the surface of one of the substrates, or by using a cylindrical lens as a substrate. By careful optimisation of parameters such as laser power, process speed and focal position, we were able to demonstrate successful welding with a gap of up to 3μm.