Towards in-situ diagnostics of multi-photon 3D laser printing using optical coherence tomography

  • Author:

    R. Zvagelsky, F. Mayer, D. Beutel, C. Rockstuhl, G. Gomard, and M. Wegener

  • Source:

    Light: Adv. Manuf.  3, 39 (2022)

  • Date: 3.08.2022
  • Abstract:

    In recent years, multi-photon 3D laser printing has become a widely used tool for the fabrication of micro- and nanostructures for a large variety of applications. Typically, thorough sample characterisation is key for an efficient optimisation of the printing process. To date, three-dimensional microscopic inspection has usually been carried out on finished 3D printed microstructures, that is, using ex-situ approaches. In contrast, in-situ 3D characterization tools are desirable for quickly assessing the quality and properties of 3D printed microstructures. Along these lines, we present and characterise a Fourier-domain optical coherence tomography (FD-OCT) system that can be readily integrated into an existing 3D laser lithography setup. We demonstrate its capabilities by examining different 3D printed polymer microstructures immersed in a liquid photoresist. In such samples, local reflectivity arises from the (refractive-index) contrasts between the polymerised and non-polymerised regions. Thus, the refractive index of the printed material can be extracted. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the reflectivity of polymer-monomer transitions exhibits time-dependent behaviour after printing. Supported by transfer-matrix calculations, we explain this effect in terms of the time-dependent graded-index transition originating from monomer diffusion into the polymer matrix. Finally, we show exemplary 3D reconstructions of printed structures that can be readily compared with 3D computer designs.