Laser polishing and 2PP structuring of inside microfluidic channels in fused silica
This study presents the development of post-processing steps for microfluidics fabricated with selective laser etching (SLE) in fused silica. In a first step, the SLE surface-even inner walls of microfluidic channels-can be smoothed by laser polishing. In addition, two-photon polymerization (2PP) can be used to manufacture polymer microstructures and microcomponents inside the microfluidic channels. The reduction in the surface roughness by laser polishing is a remelting process. While heating the glass surface above softening temperature, laser radiation relocates material thanks to the surface tension. With laser polishing, the RMS roughness of SLE surfaces can be reduced from 12 µm down to 3 nm for spatial wavelength l < 400 µm. Thanks to the laser polishing, fluidic processes as well as particles in microchannels can be observed with microscopy. A manufactured microfluidic demonstrates that SLE and laser polishing can be combined successfully. By developing two-photon polymerization (2PP) processing in microchannels we aim to enable new applications with sophisticated 3D structures inside the microchannel. With 2PP, lenses with a diameter of 50 µm are processed with a form accuracy rms of 70 nm. In addition, this study demonstrates that 3D structures can be fabricated inside the microchannels manufactured with SLE. Thanks to the combination of SLE, laser polishing and 2PP, research is pioneering new applications for microfluidics made of fused silica.