Stretchy or Foldable Glass That is Hard to Believe Without Seeing it

We are associating a lot of properties with glass such as a low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), great dielectric constant, transparency, typically high surface quality and flatness. But the terms “stretchy” or “foldable” don’t necessarily come to mind, although glass has some excellent mechanical properties. Exploiting the full mechanical flexibility that glass has to offer often means that the glass substrate has to be cut or machined to create slits and openings for the glass to move freely. Such a technique is being used by paper artists and is commonly referred to as Kirigami. Unfortunately, glass is difficult to machine in complex patterns and even if it is cut successfully, the cutting or drilling process usually creates stress in the molecular matrix of the glass substrate which significantly reduces its mechanical flexibility without causing any breakage.

Laser-induced deep etching, or LIDE for short, is a new glass processing technology that has recently changed this limitation. LPKF Laser & Electronics, a Germany based technology company has started to promote its new glass manufacturing technology with some impressive examples. In a published video the company is showing a 0.5 mm thick glass substrate with a Kirigami slot structure cut into the glass so that it can bend, flex and stretch without breaking.

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Now, the company certainly has not developed this technology just to create mind boggling internet videos. The real use behind this technology is to produce through glass vias (TGV) for electronic IC packaging applications, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) or integrated passive devices in glass. The LIDE technology uses directed laser energy to modify the glass substrate in the desired area and a subsequent wet etching process step to actually form the hole or micro feature in the glass. This technology is extremely accurate and very fast, capable of producing for thousands of holes per second in glass core substrates. As the video demonstrates, this process does not create any inherent stress in the glass, which is a great benefit when it comes to downstream processing of glass wafers in the manufacturing process of integrated circuits or micro devices. LPKF offers its new LIDE glass technology as a foundry service under its new Vitrion brand name.

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