Nanoscribe, a specialist in micrometer 3D printing, has introduced its new Nanoscribe Quantum X system, the world’s first two-photon grayscale lithography system. The new additive manufacturing technology, which was launched at the LASER World of Photonics trade fair in Munich, is designed for maskless lithography of highly precise microoptic components.
The compact Nanoscribe Quantum X system is described as the first industrial system that is based on the company’s patent-pending Two-Photon Grayscale Lithography (2GL) technology. The unique process combines the high performance of grayscale lithography with the precision and flexibility of Nanoscribe’s two-photon polymerization technique, resulting in a system capable of cost-effective, flexible and accurate maskless lithography.
The recently unveiled system was developed to meet the growing demand in the sensor, mobile device, data and telecommunications sectors and is suitable for a range of applications. Notably, the Nanoscribe Quantum X is capable of producing prototypes of refractive and diffractive microoptics as well as polymer masters.
Nanoscribe has equipped its new Quantum X system with a number of features that enable rapid free-form microfabrication. These features include an industrial form factor with ready-to-use process control interfaces, three live-view cameras for process control and a resin dispenser. The system also integrates automatic objective and sample holder recognition for rapid hardware changeovers.
The 2GL process also boasts high quality contouring capabilities thanks to its precise voxel size control. This feature results in high-precision components with high shape accuracy and ultra-smooth surfaces. The voxel size control is itself enabled by synchronized laser power modulation and dynamic focus positioning.
“Quantum X produces simple and complex optical shapes with variable feature heights within each scan field,” Nanoscribe adds. “Discrete and accurate steps, as well as, essentially quasi-continuous topographies, can be printed in one step without the need for several lithography steps or multiple mask fabrication.”
Refractive and diffractive micro-optics
Nanoscribe’s new Quantum X system is especially well suited for the production of multilevel diffractive optical elements (DOEs) thanks to the ability to modulate the printer’s laser power on a single scanning plane. This approach also unlocks faster print times for multi-layer microfabrication.
Refractive microoptics benefit from the 2GL process’ contouring capabilities, which allow for the production of single optical elements, arrays with high fill factors of up to 100% and various lens shapes. As Nanoscribe says: “Quantum X fabricates almost any imaginable 2.5D shape on the microscale, something inconceivable before, paving the way to new or strongly enhanced optical elements from imaging, illumination to sensing.”
Quantum X software
The new Quantum X system is supported by a dedicated software platform that control and monitors print jobs in real time. Users will also benefit from an intuitive and interactive touchscreen control panel, which lets them easily adjust process control and visualize print jobs in real time.
The software also comes with a wizard tool that guides designers and engineers throughout the print process to simplify and optimize print preparation. The Quantum X software accepts grayscale images of arbitrary optical designs in a number of file formats, including BMP, PNG or TIFF of up to 32-bit resolution.