Jose L. Ocaña, R. Jagdheesh, J.J. García-Ballesteros
February 29, 2016
The current availability of new advanced fiber and DPSS lasers with characteristic pulse lengths ranging from ns to fs has provided a unique frame in which the development of laser-generated microstructures has been made possible for very diverse kinds of materials and applications. At the same time, the development of the appropriate laser-processing workstations granting the appropriate precision and repeatability of the respective laser interaction processes in line with the characteristic dimension features required in the microstructured samples has definitively consolidated laser surface microstructuring as a reference domain, nowadays, unavoidable for the design and manufacturing of current use microsystem: MEMSs, fluidic devices, advanced sensors, biomedical devices and instruments, etc., are all among the most well-known developments of the micromanufacturing technology. Completing the broad spectrum of applications developed mostly involving the generation of geometrical features on a subtrate with specific functional purposes, a relatively new, emerging class of laser-microstructuring techniques is finding an important niche of application in the generation of physically structured surfaces (particularly of metallic materials) with specific contact, friction, and wear functionalities, for whose generation the concourse of different types of laser sources is being found as an appropriate tool. In this paper, the application of laser sources with emission in the UV and at ns time regime to the surface structuration of metal surfaces (specifically Al) for the modification of their wettability properties is described as an attractive application basis for the generation of self-cleaning properties of extended functional surfaces. Flat aluminum sheets of thickness 100 μm were laser machined with ultraviolet laser pulses of 30 ns with different laser parameters to optimize the process parameters. The samples produced at the optimum conditions with respect to contact angle measurement were subjected to microstructure and chemical analysis. The wetting properties were evaluated by static contact angle measurements on the laser-patterned surface. The laser-patterned microstructures exhibited superhydrophobicity with a maximum contact angle of 180° for the droplet volumes in the range of 8–12 μl.