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Title: Laser micro-processing of silicon using nanosecond pulse shaped fibre laser at 1 μm wavelength
Author: Li, Kun
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2012
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Processing of Si in the semiconductor and solar cell industry has been dominated by the Diode Pumped Solid State (DPSS) Ultraviolet (UV) laser. Recent advances in laser source technology have produced fibre lasers with Master Oscillator Power Amplifier (MOPA) architectures that offer high repetition rates, high operational efficiencies, and pulse modulation controls exceeding those of typical Q-switched DPSS lasers. The aim of this research is to investigate 1 μm fibre laser machining of Si with a view to identifying the influential laser parameters for optimum processing of high quality, high efficiency micro drilling and surface texturing applications. A secondary aim is to develop a greater understanding of the laser material interactions and material removal mechanism when using fast rise-time nanosecond laser pulse envelopes. The IR fibre laser was able to perform percussion drilling and single pulse machining on the polished Si over a range of intensities up to 1.22 GW/cm2. With the optimum parameters, the micro-sized holes generated by the IR laser have a well defined edge, no heavy recast and no cracks. With a pulse shape of fast rise time (<7.5 ns for a 10-90% rise in signal), a high front peak power zone (approaching 14 kW) and an energetic long tail (40-180 ns), the absorption coefficient of Si at IR wavelength increased dramatically with time and temperature due to the fact that the liquid Si has a metal like absorption behavior. As a result, Si was quickly melted and the rest of pulse energy was able to remove the liquid Si effectively. The machining process left a limited amount of resolidified melt droplets and vapor condensates, which could be washed off ultrasonically. The drilling process was energy efficient when melt expulsion dominated the machining mechanism (0.08-0.2 mJ pulse energy depending on the pulse durations). The low energy pulse (~0.2 mJ) can achieve similar depth as the high energy pulse (~0.7 mJ), so high repetition rates of 100 kHz can be used to instead of 25 kHz, resulted in high processing speed. In addition, by comparing the single pulse machining with the state of the art UV laser, the IR fibre laser machined deeper features and better surface finish in the pulse energy region of >0.07 mJ. With the pulse shaping capability, the material properties can be varied and the wavelength factor can be minimized. The results suggest that applications like microvia drilling can now be carried out with the more flexible and low cost IR fibre laser. The increased repetition rates of fibre laser can increase production speed to satisfy the needs of drilling ~10 thousands holes per second, required by the modern semiconductor and solar cell production. The shortened optical penetration length of 1 μm wavelength laser on Si with increasing temperature and sufficient thermal diffusion length resulted from the asymmetrical fibre laser pulse and the dynamic properties of Si produced a thick liquid layer. A one-dimensional heat conduction model based on the surface heating source predicted that this superheated liquid layer was able to stay above 4706 K (0.905 times the thermal critical temperature 5200 K of Si) for longer than 70 ns to induce explosive boiling. This proposed material removal mechanism was also confirmed by the shadowgraph images, showing particulates ejection lasting up to ten microseconds after the laser pulse. The estimated hole depth based on the explosive boiling alone were different from the measured ones at varying peak power densities (<1.22 GW/cm2) but fixed pulse duration (200 ns), since Si was removed by a mixture of mechanisms. With varying pulse durations (40-200 ns) but fixed peak power density (~0.63 GW/cm2), the estimated depth based on the explosive boiling was in close agreement with the measured ones (6% difference on average). The SEM images at this power density showed a micron- /submicron-sized debris field, which was also observed with the explosive boiling in the past. Although the improved quality of Si machining was demonstrated with the 1 μm MOPA based fibre laser, the setup of this system was only applicable to surface texturing, blind holes and through holes of less than 100 μm in depth. Further research is required to demonstrate the capability of more energetic pulse with higher peak power and large pulse duration range to explore more machining options.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: EPSRC ; SPI Lasers
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Laser processing ; Fibre laser ; Silicon ; Pulse shaping ; IR ; UV wavelength