A method, apparatus and system for creating a composite material comprised of nanoparticles and a polymer matrix, which can be utilized to site selectively heat said polymers utilizing lasers of a specific wavelength.
Ever since the creation of electronics and computers there has been a push towards miniaturization. Advances in science and engineering that push forward the miniaturization of components, such as circuit boards and computer chips, are extremely sought after and profitable. To create these tiny components requires extremely precise manufacturing techniques. Currently this precision is carried out mechanically (via tools, drill bits, human effort, etc.), which can lead to errors, loss of product and costly defects, or optically via photolithography which requires expensive machinery. Consistent and cost effective methods which would allow for the precise etching and sealing of electronics, circuit boards and microchips would open the door to better, smaller and more lucrative products.
UCF researchers have created a composite material made up of metal nanoparticles suspended in a polymer matrix. When the nanoparticles absorb energy of a certain wavelength from a low power laser, they transfer that energy to the polymer matrix in the form of heat. By selectively heating and decomposing portions of this polymer matrix, small micro-channels (tunnels within the polymer) are created. These micro-channels are very precise and easily reproducible. Since the nanoparticles can be tuned to various absorption wavelengths, multiple micro-channels at various depths may be etched at the same time by mixing several different kinds of metal nanoparticles and utilizing different lasers sources. This method would also allow for the creation of flexible printed circuit boards for use in flexible devices. Another possible use of this technology would be as an adhesive or sealant. Much like an epoxy, which is activated when a reagent comes into contact with a catalyst, a thermally activated polymer would be coated on the two surfaces to be glued together. With the use of something as simple as an everyday laser pointer, the polymer could be melted, allowed to dry and create a strong bond or seal between two surfaces. This could even be used as an electrically conductive solder for electronic components. Finally, it holds much potential for the rapid prototyping and physical 3D modeling of components still in the research and development stages. Blocks of the inexpensive polymer could be optically etched away to create sturdy and precise model for testing purposes.
- Consistent precision method of etching and tooling microelectronic components
- Polymer can be made very inexpensively and easily molded into numerous shapes and sizes
- Strong adhesive/sealant which can be selectively activated by a laser pointer
- Can be utilized for the creation of flexible printed circuit boards with less errors and defects
- Flexible electronic devices
- Sealant or adhesive
- Rapid prototype manufacturing and modeling utilizing a laser etcher