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Under the name of LAMPAS (High throughput Laser structuring with Multiscale Periodic feature sizes for Advanced Surface Functionalities), an international team of experts from TU Dresden starts working on laser-based surface treatment. The aim is to bring the promising new process to market maturity. In addition, the scientists of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering want to set a world record in production speed. “We are sure that the results will be groundbreaking for various industries and are therefore very pleased that we were able to win the position of leading European partner for the research project,” says Professor Andrés Fabian Lasagni, coordinator of the research project and holder of the professorship for laser-based methods of large-area surface structuring. The researchers see possible areas of application in medical technology, the automotive industry and energy research.

One of the partners in the project is the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC)

Time model lotus effect

Lotus effect of the butterfly wing as the model for the research ©Pixabay

The scientists were inspired by nature. The self-cleaning lotus effect, which is also known from the butterfly wing, is based on a micro- or nanostructured surface. Accordingly, the laser experts would like to achieve the functionalization of different surfaces by means of large-area, filigree laser engravings and thus create a genuine alternative to previous composite materials or surface coatings. Industrial fields of application could include the creation of antibacterial or easy-to-clean surfaces or an anti-fingerprint coating.

Over the next three years, the research team plans to develop a laser interference-based process that can cost-effectively apply large-area micro- and nanostructures to various surfaces. The challenge of the project lies in the size of the microstructures. They are smaller than a human hair. In order to make the process usable for the broad market, it is also necessary to increase the production speed of such structures. A new laser beam source with an output power of 1.5 kilowatts and ultra-short laser pulses is being developed as part of the project.

Horizon 2020

The research team around laser engineer Lasagni was among the best participants in the EU research competition “Horizon 2020” in the category information and communication technologies (ICT-04-2018, funding code 825132). This is why the project is being funded by the European Union (EU) with more than 5.1 million euros under the Horizon 2020 programme. Over the next three years, the scientists at TU Dresden will conduct research on the project together with international partners from industry and research, including Bosch, Trumpf, Bosch-Siemens-Hausgeräte (BSH), Next Scan Technology, Near Infrared Technologies (NIT), Lasea and the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC).

Main image: The microstructures – here an example of a metal surface treated with a laser for self-cleaning surfaces – are a great challenge. The distance between the individual structural elements (the distance of “mountain” to “mountain”) is 10 micrometres. For comparison: A human hair has a diameter of 50-80 micrometres © TU Dresden