Ejection Regimes in Picosecond Laser-Induced Forward Transfer of Metals

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Laser-induced forward transfer (LIFT) is a 3D direct-write method suitable for precision printing of various materials, including pure metals. To understand the ejection mechanism and thereby improve deposition, here we present visualizations of ejection events at high-spatial (submicrometer) and high-temporal resolutions, for picosecond LIFT of copper and gold films with a thickness 50  nm≤d≤400  nm . For increasing fluences, these visualizations reveals the fluence threshold below which no ejection is observed, followed by the release of a metal cap (i.e., a hemisphere-shaped droplet), the formation of an elongated jet, and the release of a metal spray. For each ejection regime, the driving mechanisms are analyzed, aided by a two-temperature model. Cap ejection is driven by relaxation of thermal stresses induced by laser-induced heating, whereas jet and spray ejections are vapor driven (as the metal film is partly vaporized). We introduce energy balances that provide the ejection velocity in qualitative agreement with our velocity measurements. The threshold fluences separating the ejection regimes are determined. In addition, the fluence threshold below which no ejection is observed is quantitatively described using a balance between the surface energy and the inertia of the (locally melted) film. In conclusion, the ejection type can now be controlled, which allows for improved deposition of pure metal droplets and sprays
Original languageEnglish
Article number024001
Pages (from-to)024001-
JournalPhysical review applied
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • METIS-310561
  • IR-95965


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