December 11, 2013
Dr. Dirk Sutter of TRUMPF, Dr. Jens König of Bosch, and Professor Stefan Nolte of the University of Jena have received the German Future Prize, presented by German President Joachim Gauck at a ceremony in Berlin, for establishing the ultrashort pulse laser as a new tool for industrial production with nearly unlimited possibilities.
The ultrashort pulse laser, which emits up to 24,000 pulses of very high energy in a fraction of a second, can process almost any material gently, precisely, and with high productivity, according to the manufacturer. It drills ultrafine holes in metal; cuts medical stents from tiny polymer tubes; cuts shatterproof touchscreens for Smartphone displays; structures the surfaces of thin-film solar cells; and also can cut through ultrathin plastic foil, brittle ceramic components, and diamonds.
The process transfers no heat to the material and no residue after processing. This is because the ultrashort pulse heats the material locally and intensely, ejecting and vaporizing it before the heat can be transferred. This enables areas just a few micrometers in diameter to be ablated with no melt residue, no HAZ, and no need for refinishing.