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LIGA process

Meet us at:
NSRRC Users' Meeting and Workshop
17-20.9.2019, NSRRC, Hsinchu, Taiwan

XNPIG 2019 (X-ray and Neutron Phase Imaging with Gratings )
20-24.10.2019, Sendai International Center, Sendai, Japan

Recent updates:
LIGA: micro fabrication process with X-ray lithography and electroplating

High-precision microstructures made with X-ray and electroplating: LIGA

KIT/IMT and microworks GmbH are two of the world's top authorities in the fabrication of high aspect ratio polymer and metal structures using X-ray lithography and electroplating techniques. With these techniques, LIGA Process, for example X-ray gratings with both a narrow period and high aspect ratio and X-ray focusing lenses as well as micro gears in metal, and high aspect ratio apertures for optical applications have been realised.

1. LIGA process



X-ray mask fabrication

At first an X-ray mask is made with resist drawn with e-beam or laser, followed by gold electroplating as X-ray absorber. For high contrast structures, an additional high contrast mask is required.



X-ray lithography (Lithographie)
Precision structures drawn on the X-ray mask above are copied on the resist on the substrate. Thanks to parallel X-ray beam provided by the synchrotron radiation facility KARA (formerly ANKA), high aspect ratio with smooth side walls are realised.



Electroplating (Galvanoformung)
Metal parts with high precision structures with a high aspect ratio are realised with electroplating done between the precision resist gaps made with X-ray lithography.



Polymer moulding (Abformung)
To copy the precision structures on polymer substrates, mould inserts for injection moulding and hot-embossing could be made using the process above. This allows for realising precisely replicated micro polymer structures.


2. LIGA application examples
Microstructured polymer and metal parts made by the LIGA process in Karlsruhe have various applications for example in the X-ray optic fields, both in research institutes and industries.



X-ray gratings for Talbot interferometry
High aspect ratio absorption gratings, narrow period phase gratings / absorption gratings for a multi-modal X-ray contrast imaging method called the Talbot interferometer.
Link to X-ray gratings



X-ray focusing Compound refractive lens, CRL
Compound refractive lenses (CRLs) used at e.g. SPring-8 to focus monochromatic hard X-ray down to a submicron focus spot size.
Link to X-ray lenses



Micro through-holes (X-ray apertures)
(a) Multi holes / X-ray multi-collimator
Multiple through-holes with a diameter of e.g. 3.0 µm on gold membrane (thickness 80 µm). Application: X-ray multi-collimator for space science.

(b) Single through-hole (X-ray aperture)
High aspect ratio through-hole with a diameter of 5 µm in the centre of 200 µm thick gold plate.
Application: X-ray aperture at a synchrotron radiation beam line



Micro gears 1
Application: watch gears
Micro metal structures made with X-ray lithography followed by electroplating. High precision aperture structures in gold and Nickel.

Scale bar (yellow line): 1 mm



Micro gears 2

Application: High precision micro-manipulators
Harmonic drive gear train
- High transmission ratio
- No backlash



High aspect ratio through-holes in nickel

Application: Apertures for hyperspectral camera
- 2.5 µm gap, structure depth 180 µm
- Reduction of keystone and smile

Reference: A Fridman et al. "Measurements of the performance of the light mixing chambers in the mixel camera", Optics Express 23(10):13659, 2015



X-ray test apertures

Application: Knife edge measurement of synchrotron X-ray beam
Structures: Gold membrane of 30 µm thickness with various square apertures (5 to 1,000 µm side lengths)

3. Manufactures


The LIGA process is a fabrication process of high aspect ratio microstructures made in metal and polymer, which was first invented by and has been developed at the German institute, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) / IMT. Commercialisation of such parts have been realised by its spin-off company microworks GmbH based in the KIT campus, whose local distributor in Japan, Korea and Taiwan is ASICON Tokyo Ltd.


Synchrotron facility KARA (formerly ANKA)

放射光施設 ANKA

LIGA I,II,III: X-ray lithography

PDIFF: XRPD

TOPO: X-ray topo

... in total 15 beam lines in operation


Hot-embossing machine at KIT/IMT

ホットエンボス装置

Structure height: 1 to 2,000 µm

Substrate size: up to 8 inch

Aspect ratio: ~20