FEMTOPRINT is a European project supported under the Framework Programme Seven of the European Commission.
FEMTOPRINT is to develop a printer for microsystems with nano-scale features fabricated out of glass. Our ultimate goal is to provide a large pool of users from industry, research and universities with the capability of producing their own micro-systems, in a rapid-manner without the need for expensive infrastructures and specific expertise. Recent researches have shown that one can form three-dimensional patterns in glass material using low-power femtosecond laser beam. This simple process opens interesting new opportunities for a broad variety of microsystems with feature sizes down to the nano-scale. These patterns can be used to form integrated optics components or be ‘developed’ by chemically etching to form three-dimensional structures like fluidic channels and micro-mechanical components. Worth noticing, sub-micron resolution can be achieved and sub-pattern smaller than the laser wavelength can be formed. Thanks to the low-energy required to pattern the glass, femtosecond laser consisting simply of an oscillator are sufficient to produce such micro- and nano- systems.
Fig. The Femtoprint logo written in the bulk of a fused silica substrate. The logo is 2mm wide and is made with 'nanogratings' produced by the femtosecond laser. It is seen under different illumination and polarization conditions. The false color image shows that multiple information can be encoded.
These systems are nowadays table-top and cost a fraction of conventional clean-room equipments. It is highly foreseeable that within 3 to 5 years such laser systems will fit in a shoe-box. The project specific objectives are:
1/ Develop a femtosecond laser suitable for glass micro-/nano- manufacturing that fits in a shoe-box
2/ Integrate the laser in a machine similar to a printer that can position and manipulate glass sheets of various thicknesses
3/ Demonstrate the use of the printer to fabricate a variety of micro-/nano-systems with optical, mechanical and fluid-handling capabilities. A clear and measurable outcome of Femtoprint will be to be in a situation to commercialize the ‘femtoprinter’ through the setting-up of a consortium spin-off. The potential economical impact is large and is expected in various industrial sectors.
Download here a general flyer about Femtoprint (from the EFFRA - European Factory of the Future Research Association).