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Ultrafast laser welding of ceramics

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Science  23 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6455, pp. 803-808
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw6699

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Joining the laser welding club

Laser welding is an integral part of modern manufacturing, but it fractures ceramic materials. Penilla et al. developed two methods for welding ceramics using ultrafast lasers. One method tunes the ceramic properties, allowing the laser to transit through the ceramic and weld at the interface between pieces. The other method optimizes a gap between pieces to efficiently deposit energy. Both methods leverage short but energetic pulses to create a melt pool that allows ceramics to be joined, without the high temperature used for traditional ceramic welds.

Science, this issue p. 803

Abstract

Welding of ceramics is a key missing component in modern manufacturing. Current methods cannot join ceramics in proximity to temperature-sensitive materials like polymers and electronic components. We introduce an ultrafast pulsed laser welding approach that relies on focusing light on interfaces to ensure an optical interaction volume in ceramics to stimulate nonlinear absorption processes, causing localized melting rather than ablation. The key is the interplay between linear and nonlinear optical properties and laser energy–material coupling. The welded ceramic assemblies hold high vacuum and have shear strengths comparable to metal-to-ceramic diffusion bonds. Laser welding can make ceramics integral components in devices for harsh environments as well as in optoelectronic and/or electronic packages needing visible-radio frequency transparency.

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