High-Precision Laser-Based Manufacturing Group

The High-Precision Laser-Based Manufacturing (HLM) group, headed by Dr. Ben Mills, is focussed on the development of novel optical processes that are enabling new paradigms in high-precision high-speed laser-machining.

Through the use of a digital micromirror device (DMD), which we use as a spatial light modulator, we are able to change the spatial intensity profile and energy of every single laser pulse, for laser repetition rates up to 30 kHz. By imaging each shaped pulse onto a target sample, we are able to rapidly fabricate extremely precise structures over cm-squared regions.

Currently, the group is focussed on the development of new methods for light manipulation, such as adaptive algorithms based on field propagation, for applications for both additive and subtractive manufacturing, including the development of a subwavelength-resolution 3D laser-printer, substrates that control differentiation pathways of stem-cells for regenerative medicine, and bespoke sensors for aerospace and power generation.

The laser-machining research takes place in the FAST lab, a £1.2 million femtosecond laser facility based at the Optoelectronics Research Centre. The facility is one of the most flexible laser systems of its kind in the world, offering full wavelength tunability from 235 nm (UV) to 10 μm (IR) and hence enabling unparalleled research flexibility.


Collaborators

  • M-Solv
  • Laser Micromachining Limited
  • Oxsensis
  • SPI Lasers
  • University Hospital Southampton
  • School of Medicine

Current grants

“Beam-shaping for Laser-based Additive and Subtractive-manufacturing Techniques (BLAST)”, £861,709, November 2016 to 31 October 2021

Recent publications

  • 7334 — M.Feinäugle, D.J.Heath, B.Mills, J.A.Grant-Jacob, G.Z.Mashanovich, R.W.EasonLaser-induced backward transfer of nanoimprinted polymer elements
    Applied Physics A Materials Science and Processing 2016 Vol.122(4) pp.1-5
    Abstract   Southampton ePrint: 381939
  • 7037 — D.J.Heath, B.Mills, M.Feinäugle, R.W.EasonRapid bespoke laser ablation of variable period grating structures using a digital micromirror device for multi-colored surface images
    Applied Optics 2015 Vol.54(16) 4984-4988
    Abstract   Southampton ePrint: 378397
  • 6908 — D.J.Heath, M.Feinäugle, J.Grant-Jacob, B.Mills, R.W.EasonDynamic spatial pulse shaping via a digital micromirror device for patterned laser-induced forward transfer of solid polymer films
    Optical Materials Express 2015 Vol.5(5) pp.1129-1136
    Abstract   Southampton ePrint: 378492
  • 6616 — B.Mills, D.J.Heath, M.Feinäugle, J.A.Grant-Jacob, R.W.EasonLaser ablation via programmable image projection for submicron dimension machining in diamond
    Journal of Laser Applications 2014 Vol.26(4) pp.41501
    Abstract   Southampton ePrint: 368440
  • 6247 — C.L.Sones, I.N.Katis, B.Mills, M.Feinäugle, A.Mosayyebi, J.Butement, R.W.EasonRapid and mask-less laser-processing technique for the fabrication of microstructures in polydimethylsiloxane
    Applied Surface Science 2014 Vol.298 pp.125-129
    Abstract   Southampton ePrint: 362748
  • 6201 — J.A.Grant-Jacob, B.Mills, R.W.EasonParametric study of the rapid fabrication of glass nanofoam via femtosecond laser irradiation
    Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 2014 Vol.47(5) pp.055105
    Abstract   Southampton ePrint: 360945
  • 5852 — J.Grant-Jacob, B.Mills, M.Feinäugle, C.L.Sones, G.Oosterhuis, M.B.Hoppenbrouwers, R.W.EasonMicron-scale copper wires printed using femtosecond laser-induced transfer with automated donor replenishment
    Optical Materials Express 2013 Vol.3(6) pp.747-754
    Abstract   Southampton ePrint: 356441
  • 5833 — B.Mills, J.A.Grant-Jacob, M.Feinäugle, R.W.EasonSingle-pulse multiphoton polymerisation of complex structures using a digital multimirror device
    Optics Express 2013 Vol.21(12) pp.14853-14858
    Abstract   Southampton ePrint: 356463
  • 5632 — B.Mills, M.Feinäugle, N.Rizvi, R.W.EasonSub-micron-scale femtosecond laser ablation using a digital micromirror device
    Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering 2013 Vol.23 pp.035005 Online at: stacks.iop.org/JMM/23/035005
    Abstract   Southampton ePrint: 347756
  • 5208 — B.Mills, D.Kundys, M.Farsari, S.Mailis, R.W.EasonSingle-pulse multiphoton fabrication of high aspect ratio structures with sub-micron features using vortex beams
    Applied Physics A 2012 Vol.108(3) pp.651-655 online first
    Abstract   Southampton ePrint: 339966

Lasers have fundamentally transformed manufacturing in the past decades, and they are now routinely used for the machining of almost all size scales from micro-scale medical devices to battleships. However, the laser beam shape is generally not changed during machining.

We are developing new methods for light manipulation, such as adaptive algorithms based on field propagation, for applications for both additive and subtractive manufacturing, including the development of a subwavelength-resolution 3D laser-printer, substrates that control differentiation pathways of stem-cells for regenerative medicine, and bespoke sensors for aerospace and power generation.

Copyright University of Southampton 2006