Author(s): Venturini, Francesco; Navarrini, Walter; Resnati, Giuseppe; Metrangolo, Pierangelo; Vazquez, Rebeca Martinez; Osellame, Roberto; Cerullo, Giulio.
Source: JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C
Volume: 114 Issue: 43 Pages: 18712-18716
Published: NOV 4 2010
Femtosecond laser irradiation followed by chemical etching (FLICE) with hydrofluoric acid (HF) is an emerging technique for the fabrication of directly buried, three-dimensional microfluidic channels. With liquid HF, the etching process is diffusion-limited and is self-terminating, leading to maximum microchannel lengths of approximate to 1.5 mm. A strategy to overcome this limitation would be to perform iterative etching, periodically removing the exhausted products and replenishing the partially etched channel with fresh acid; this procedure is, however, quite cumbersome in the liquid phase. In this paper we present what is to our knowledge the first implementation of the FLICE technique with low-pressure gaseous HF etchant. The use of a gas-phase etchant naturally lends itself to the application of iterative etching techniques, since it is very easy to remove the etchant, by pumping vacuum in the reaction chamber after each etching step. We demonstrate that iterative etching in the gas phase overcomes the limitations of wet etching and allows to achieve nearly constant etching rate for a microchannel length up to approximate to 3 mm.