Light Splash: Transparent pipes shape microstructures | Science News


Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


Light Splash: Transparent pipes shape microstructures

1:27pm, February 12, 2003

A little high-tech plumbing and colored water may change how engineers make miniaturized fluid-carrying structures.

A team at the University of Washington in Seattle has added a new twist to the light-blocking patterns, or photomasks, used like stencils in microchip manufacturing. They've invented photomasks containing tiny, transparent pipes into which the engineers have injected dyes that dim the ultraviolet (UV) radiation passing through.

Where less UV light penetrates the photomask, there's less breakdown of the photosensitive coatings, called photoresists, that cover chips during processing. The coating left behind forms a structure of varying heights that can serve as a mold.

With their additional control over UV exposure, the researchers have patterned polymeric materials with microscopic ramps, stairs, and other complex shapes. Such graded 3-D polymer structures may go into microfluidic devices–networks of microscopic pipes, pumps, and valves that ca

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content