A microfabrication technology with real-time polymer processing control is introduced in this work. The technique is titled electro-dispensing, as it employs a metal micro-dispensing tip that is biased with a user-defined voltage. The in-situ voltage directs an electric field through the underlying dispensed polymer structure. Polymer droplets are dispensed directly onto a chip with precise (pL) volumes, and the in-situ micro-dispensing tip voltage is varied to adjust the polymer droplet morphology during the microfabrication process. The technique is carried out within a glycerol ambient filler solution, to create an initial high contact angle (160°) on the polymer microdroplets, and voltage tunability is applied to control the microdroplet shapes. Ultraviolet curing is subsequently employed to solidify the micro-spheroid structures on the desired locations across the chip. The electro-dispensing process is demonstrated in this work for numerous microdroplets, with a variety of polymer morphologies and diameters down to 150 μm. The capabilities of the electro-dispensing process are also demonstrated in this work for a specific application relating to integrated photonic circuitry. Polymer microdroplets in the past have been limited to use as lenses for vertical beam focusing (through the plane of the chip), because of their exceedingly low contact angles on solid surfaces. In this work, polymer micro-droplets are introduced for lateral beam focusing and retroreflection (above and parallel to the plane of the chip). These new technologies for on-chip optical beam dispersion management are brought about by the capabilities of electro-dispensing: the use of an ambient filler allows the dispensing process to create high-contact-angle near-spherical microdroplets; the electro-dispensing process then allows this droplet to be tuned for its specific role within the integrated photonic chip (e.g. as a spherical element for in-plane focusing or an elliptical element for in-plane retroreflection). Ray-based analyses and electromagnetic models are used to characterize the optical responses of the micro-spheroid structures, and the results are compared to experimental measurements with on-chip laser beam control.
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Microfabrication Technologies Based on Electro-Dispensing
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Nichols, J, Born, B, Landry, EL, & Holzman, JF. "Microfabrication Technologies Based on Electro-Dispensing." Proceedings of the ASME 2011 9th International Conference on Nanochannels, Microchannels, and Minichannels. ASME 2011 9th International Conference on Nanochannels, Microchannels, and Minichannels, Volume 2. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. June 19–22, 2011. pp. 295-300. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/ICNMM2011-58056
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