Traditional manufacturing techniques widely used in semiconductor industries involve many processing steps that consume both time and material and lead to high cost. Soft Lithography (SL) offers a new way to print micro/nano structures, which is a fast and low cost alternative to the conventional route, although the high processing temperature of metals, semiconductors and ceramics limits the application SL techniques. In this paper we report the use of Ag nanoparticles as building blocks to make structures by combing the merits of SL, nanotechnology and laser engineering, which provide a simple additive route with low capital investment. Glassy carbon (GC) was chosen as the material for the rigid master mould, as no release coating is needed for replicating the polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) mould. GC moulds were machined by a nanosecond-pulsed Yb fibre laser. The machined GC moulds were further cleaned by PDMS and the same fibre laser system to remove the process debris. The master mould was further replicated by PDMS. PDMS replicas with either positive or negative features from the master mould were attainable. A two-step strategy was used to print patterns using PDMS mould and Ag nanoparticle paste. Metal patterns were formed on various substrates, and the PDMS mould was left clean and ready for reuse. The resultant printed patterns were found to be uniform over millimetre range, with negligible residual layer, and the thickness of up to several micrometres. The thermal responses of Ag nanoparticles at various sintering temperatures were investigated. The factors affecting the resolution of printed structures were discussed.
Fibre laser machining for glassy carbon master mould and soft lithography based two-step printing for Ag nanoparticle structures