Adaptable, Efficient Lasers Expand Their Role in Microfabrication
Cell phones, computers, stents, microsatellites, smart cards, ID tags -- there's no escape from products incorporating miniature components. Consumers are expected to spend billions of dollars for such devices over the next few years. Debate continues about whether they make our lives better, but they certainly make them more interesting. As microsystem technology becomes pervasive, the demand for microfabrication tools increases proportionately. In this fertile economic climate, tool technology is rapidly evolving to meet the requirements of emerging applications.
Laser tools are finding increasing use in the fabrication of miniature components, many of them electronic. In the continuing drive to reduce semiconductor feature sizes, manufacturers are expected to spend billions of dollars for fine-line lithography tools that incorporate deep-UV excimer lasers. Suppliers of near-UV lasers are exploiting a developing market for laser direct exposure of printed circuit boards using processes similar to those developed earlier for production of lithographic exposure masks. In a related application, laser drilling has become the dominant means of producing microvia holes in high-density interconnect circuits...
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