Among the greatest inventions dating back to the 1960s is laser technology. A Laser is a device that produces a narrow and powerful beam of light, according to britannica.com. Since its inception, its use has advanced in multiple industries – from the medical sector for dermatological applications, to industrial operations for tasks like marking, cutting, and welding. Below we will highlight a few of the more common applications of lasers.
Why are we writing about lasers? Because most lasers use a specific blend of gases that we are asked to provide to our customers.
Gas Laser Mix for Your Laser Devices
Gas lasers have become the tool of choice in a variety of applications. Today we see gas lasers in the surgical suite, the dermatologists office and in the medical spa. Manufacturers and fabricators use lasers to cut metal, plastics and other substrates with precision. Lasers have replaced more conventional methods of CRT and ARC lamps in visual display applications from TV’s to video walls. All of these applications use a precise mixture of gases for the laser devices being used.
Gases Used in Laser Technology
Gas mixtures are required for most lasers to operate effectively. However, laser process quality is impacted by these factors: gas purity, homogeneity, and consistency of the mixture. Even a minor discrepancy in the required gas blends can negatively impact the laser’s process and may even lead to harmful outcomes.
Typically, the gases used in laser technology are oxygen (O2), xenon (Xe), argon, (Ar), neon (Ne), helium (He), krypton (Kr), fluorine (F2), hydrogen (H2), nitrogen (N2), and carbon dioxide (CO2) among others. These gases are essentially categorized into either operating gases or working gases.
Operating gases are required to generate the laser light. Working gases, on the other hand, are those that assist in various tasks including the removal of debris, prevention of possible oxidation, shielding and cooling, and as a source of additional energy to speed up cutting tasks.
Gas Mixtures for Excimer Laser Technology
An important type of gas laser technology is the excimer laser. This type of laser device makes use of light emitted by “excited dimers”. Two short lived molecules from gas mixtures composed chiefly of an inert noble gas and halogen gases. As different mixtures of gas produce varying wavelengths, it is critical that the requirement needed for a particular application is well specified.
Some of the more common gas blends for excimer lasers that our team at Spec Gas Inc blends are
- 15ppm Xenon, 0.17% Fluorine, 1% Helium, 6% Argon balance Helium
- 0.1% Fluorine, 1.85% Helium, 2.78 % Krypton in Neon
- 0.09% Hydrogen Chloride, 0.7% Xenon balance Neon
- 0.08% Hydrogen Chloride, 1.56% Helium, 2.78% Xenon balance Neon
Notable uses of gas mixtures in the excimer lasers extend from vision correction to semiconductor production. Discussed below are specific areas of application:
Laser Gases for Photolithography in Semiconductor Production
In semiconductor manufacturing, excimer gas mixtures aid in the patterning of the microchip’s circuitry forms. The process called photolithography highlights the use of excimer gas to create a light source used in transferring the master pattern into a semiconductor sheet with a special chemical film.
In addition, excimer lasers facilitate the creation of smaller features of the device such as capacitors and transistors that are packed with greater computing capacity over a smaller unit area for faster and more energy efficient properties.
Laser Gases for the Annealing Process of Digital Display Screens
Modern digital display screens that are built with ultra-high resolution and better color quality are a product of an annealing process which uses excimer gas blends. It involves the modification of surface morphology that enhances the crystallization of an amorphous material.
A key element in this process is the excimer gas mixture that creates the beam used to fuse together several thin layers of amorphous material. Ultimately converting the material to a polycrystalline product with better performance and superb energy efficiency.
Helium Neon Laser Gas for Medical Applications
The ablation process operating around 200nm wavelength produced by the excimer laser is ideal for intensive vision correction and some dermatological operations. Ablation involves high-precision material removal through lasers feeding excimer gas mixtures. This makes it an ideal solution for corrective eye surgery procedures due to minimal scarring when used in the cutting of human tissues.