Lasers can be used to scribe fine features in any material. This can be for surface patterning, dicing or as the first step in a “scribe and break” process.
Fine slots can be cut in almost any material including: ceramics, silicon, sapphire, metals and glass. These very fine slots can be used directly, as in the Laser Groove Buried Grid (LGBG) process in photovoltaic cell production.
Alternatively the slot weakens materials in a very controlled manner, prior to applying a force to fracture the material. The very fine control over the scribing leads to an extremely well defined break, which is clean and free of micro-cracking. This is often used in the electronics industry for dicing silicon wafers and ceramic sheets and in the solar power industry for cutting up photovoltaic cells for solar concentrators.
In addition to scribing, most materials under 1 mm thick can be micro-cut through using a laser. This eliminates the breaking step but obviously lengthens the process time. Hence laser micro-cutting is often used for dicing small batches while scribing is used for volume production.
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