The Laser Direct Synthesis and Patterning (LDSP) technology has advantages in terms of processing time and cost compared to nanomaterials-based laser additive microfabrication processes. In LDSP, a scanning laser on the substrate surface induces chemical reactions in the reactive liquid solution and selectively deposits target material in a preselected pattern on the substrate. In this study, we experimentally investigated the effect of the processing parameters and type and concentration of the additive solvent on the properties and growth rate of the resulting metal film fabricated by this LDSP technology. It was shown that reactive metal ion solutions with substantial viscosity yield metal films with superior physical properties. A numerical analysis was also carried out the first time to investigate the coupled opto-thermo-fluidic transport phenomena and the effects on the metal film growth rate. To complete the simulation, the optical properties of the LDSP deposited metal film with a variety of thicknesses were measured. The characteristics of the temperature field and the thermally induced flow associated with the moving heat source are discussed. It was shown that the processing temperature range of the LDSP is from 330 to 390 K. A semi-empirical model for estimating the metal film growth rate using this process was developed based on these results. From the experimental and numerical results, it is seen that, owing to the increased reflectivity of the silver film as its thickness increases, the growth rate decreases gradually from about 40 nm at initial to 10 nm per laser scan after ten scans. This self-controlling effect of LDSP process controls the thickness and improves the uniformity of the fabricated metal film. The growth rate and resulting thickness of the metal film can also be regulated by adjustment of the processing parameters, and thus can be utilized for controllable additive nano/microfabrication.
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