Our Technology

We make microparts by means of X-ray, e-beam, UV and 2-photon lithography and by electroplating in gold, nickel, and nickel alloys. That way, we design each part using the most appropriate technique and material.

What we offer is essentially a much-broadened interpretation of LIGA technology ("LIGA" is a German acronym for Lithographie/Galvanoformung/Abformung – lithography,electroplating, and molding).

There are specific advantages to each type of lithography and material. Find out more below.
E-Beam Lithography
with the EBPG5200Z e-beam writer

Highest precision and resolution combined with rapid patterning are the mainbenefits of e-beam lithography. We use the KIT/IMT’s EBPG5200Z e-beam lithography system to design X-ray masks with features as small as 100 nm at heights of 2 µm. With e-beam lithography, the placement of patterns is extremely accurate, with a margin of error of less than 100 nm over a distance of several cm. This precise pattern placement is crucial to the performance of our small-period X-ray gratings.

Example of Microstructures made with E-Beam Lithography
1 µm
Example of Microstructures made with E-Beam Lithography
100 nm
Direct-Write Laser Lithography
with the DWL66fs UV direct-write laser

Direct laser writing at a wavelength of 355 nm allows us to pattern highly sensitive SU-8 resists in thicknesses far beyond the range that is possible using e-beam lithography. We mainly use this technology to pattern high-contrast X-ray masks directly from the CAD data. The machine’s precision is made possible by interferometric control of the table movement.

Example of Microstructures made with Direct Write Laser Lithography
10 µm
Example of Microstructures made with Direct Write Laser Lithography
20 µm
X-Ray Lithography
at the KARA synchrotron

X-ray lithography is our flagship technology, used by Microworks since day 1. With X-ray lithography, we can readily make structures up to 20 times higher than their width, with pattern heights ranging between a few µm all the way to a few thousand µm. The high aspect ratio (height ÷ width) is the key feature of these structures, delivering excellent performance in X-ray optics. Smooth sidewalls are an additional benefit of X-ray lithography, which is particularly important for visible and infrared optical applications.

Example of Microstructures made with X-Ray Lithography
20 µm
Example of Microstructures made with X-Ray Lithography
200 µm
Two-Photon Lithography
with the Photonic Professional GT2 3D Printer

This technique is the latest addition to our range of lithography options. Two-photon lithography allows full 3D design freedom. We mostly use it to make patterns which can later be replicated via a mould (in 2.5D). Details can be made as small as 0.2 µm.

Example of Microstructures made with two-photon Lithography
5 µm
Example of Microstructures made with two-photon Lithography
20 µm
Electroplating in Nickel + Gold

We mainly use gold and nickel for electroplating because these materials can be plated to tall structure heights such as those achieved via X-ray lithography. Gold is particularly suitable for making X-ray optical elements due to its excellent X-ray absorption. Nickel is the right choice for phase-shifting elements due to its low absorption and high refractive index. In very thick layers, electroplated nickel can also be used as a molding tool to replicate lithographic patterns. Nickel alloys are used for electroplating whenever their particular properties are required: thermal in the case of nickel-cobalt alloys, and mechanical or magnetic in the case of nickel-iron alloys.

Example of Microstructures made with Electroplating with Nickel or Gold
20 µm
Example of Microstructures made with Electroplating with Nickel or Gold
500 µm