Jan 22, 2014

Picosecond pulsed laser ablation and micromachining of 4H-SiC wafers

Ultra-short pulsed laser ablation and micromachining of n-type, 4H-SiC wafer was performed using a 1552 nm wavelength, 2 ps pulse, 5 μJ pulse energy erbium-doped fiber laser with an objective of rapid etching of diaphragms for pressure sensors. Ablation rate, studied as a function of energy fluence, reached a maximum of 20 nm per pulse at 10 mJ/cm2, which is much higher than that achievable by the femtosecond laser for the equivalent energy fluence. Ablation threshold was determined as 2 mJ/cm2. Scanning electron microscope images supported the Coulomb explosion (CE) mechanism by revealing very fine particulates, smooth surfaces and absence of thermal effects including melt layer formation. It is hypothesized that defect-activated absorption and multiphoton absorption mechanisms gave rise to a charge density in the surface layers required for CE and enabled material expulsion in the form of nanoparticles. Trenches and holes micromachined by the picosecond laser exhibited clean and smooth edges and non-thermal ablation mode for pulse repetition rates less than 250 kHz. However carbonaceous material and recast layer were noted in the machined region when the pulse repetition rate was increased 500 kHz that could be attributed to the interaction between air plasma and micro/nanoparticles. A comparison with femtosecond pulsed lasers shows the promise that picosecond lasers are more efficient and cost effective tools for creating sensor diaphragms and via holes in 4H-SiC.

Source:Applied Surface Science

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