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3D Printing on Nano and Micrometer Scale
3D laser lithography refers to 3D printing on micrometer scale: This technology facilitates the manufacturing of complex three-dimensional structures in the micrometer range and smaller. Optical components such as photonic chips, laser diodes, or optical fibers may be interlinked by means of three-dimensional optical elements. Mulitphoton Optics manufactures and markets 3D laser lithography equipment and provides their customers with high-precision solutions for the flexible production of any three-dimensional structure. In particular in the area of optical data transmission, 3D laser lithography technology is becoming more and more important.
We talked to Dr. Ruth Houbertz, CEO of Multiphoton Optics GmbH, about how 3D laser lithography works, its possible applications, and about the innovations Multiphoton Optics has in store.
3D laser lithography – the term sounds as if it needed explanation. Could you briefly explain in simple words what it is and how it works?
3D laser lithography means that pulsed laser light is focused into a photochemically reactive material such as polymers, hybrid polymers, or special glasses. Only in the spot of the focal volume, the intensity is high enough to trigger a reaction in the material. In polymeric materials for example, a cross-linking reaction is triggered. If the laser focus is then moved through the material on a three dimensional path, the material becomes cross-linked along the focus volume path. That way we are able to create any three-dimensional structure or shape with very high-precision surfaces and volumes.
What are the possible applications for this technology?
The fields of application for this technology are very versatile. In addition to various products in the fields of photonics, the technology may also be used for new products in biomedical or life sciences that would be impossible or at least very hard to manufacture without this technology. It enables for example the production of bio micro-reactors, micro-fluidic cells, drug delivery structures, or different skeleton structures. In regenerative medicine, they are used among others in tissue engineering, that is the production of tissue from the body's own cells. Examples from photonics include optical waveguides for on-chip, chip-to-chip, or chip-to-fiber couplings, which will be exciting for data transmission in the future. Beyond that there are numerous other possible applications for the technology; the possibilities are virtually endless.