Pushing the boundaries of Deep Proton Writing as a rapid prototyping technology for high-quality polymer micro-optical components


In the last decade, we have developed and optimized an in-house technology called Deep Proton Writing (DPW) [1]. DPW consists of irradiating a polymer with high-energy protons to locally change the physical and chemical properties of the polymer, which allows us to apply subsequent chemical processing steps, resultingin high quality micro-optical components.

Recently, we shifted to proton energies of 16.5MeV for the irradiations, which allowed for a dramatic increase in the range and the thickness of the components we can fabricate. The aim of this work is to optimize the DPW process to this new energy range and to explore the limitations of the process by prototyping a variety of extremely challenging micro-components. 

Figure 2: Examples of DPW-fabricated micro-components
 for optical interconnect and bio-photonics applications 


In this technology-oriented thesis, you will optimize the DPW technology for the prototyping of polymer micro-components in 2mm thick positive resist PMMA and in negative resist SU-8. You will optimize the process parameters as such that the resulting optical components have the lowest surface roughness, optimal sidewall straightness and the highest achievable aspect ratio. You will use dedicated CAD-CAM tools to create your component designs, use and optimize the unique DPW technology, and extensively characterize the fabricated components using the state-of-the-art measurement equipment in B-Phot's cleanroom.

The main part of this thesis will clearly focus on the experimental side. The components you will target include: arrays of micro-pillars for microfluidic applications, advanced optical fiber connectors, and out-of-plane coupling micro-mirrors for optical interconnect applications.

Link to webpage or article related to the subject :

[1] J. Van Erps, M. Vervaeke, C. Debaes, H. Ottevaere, A. Hermanne, H. Thienpont, “Deep Proton Writing: a rapid prototyping tool for polymer micro-optical and micro-mechanical components,” in Rapid Prototyping Technology - Principles and Functional Requirements, InTech, ISBN 978-953-307-970-7, pp. 339-362, 2011.


Contact Affiliation
Jurgen Van Erps Promotor
Michael Vervaeke Promotor
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