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Research Highlight

Ultrathin flexible glass device

Flexible glass fluidic devices as thin as just one cell created in the Laboratory for Integrated Biodevice

Jun 7, 2016

Ultrathin glass chip

In the fields of fuel cell technology, life sciences and even personalized medicine, glass, because of its stability in most of solvents, has long been expected to emerge as the next-generation material for compact, high-speed, and high-efficiency devices. But applications of glass devices have been limited because the glass is too thick, too heavy, and too hard.

Yaxiaer Yalikun and Yo Tanaka of QBiC's Laboratory for Integrated Biodevice have focused on ultra-thin glass sheets with a thickness of 4 micrometers, about 1/50 of the thickness of a human hair. This glass sheet has only been developed and marketed in the last few years. It is lightweight and flexible, and acts like a film that bends well. Unfortunately, processing and bonding of such thin glass sheets have been difficult with conventional glass processing technology.

The lab, in collaboration with Takanori Iino, Assistant Professor at Nara Institute of Science and Technology, successfully achieved high-precision processing of ultrathin glass with an ultrashort pulse laser. In addition, they applied their own, previously developed, bonding technology to bond multiple ultrathin glass sheets. The bonded glass sheets were used to create the world's thinnest glass fluid chip. At just 12 micrometers thickness, it is changing the image of the thick, hard glass device.

The study established the technology to finally produce the next generation of compact and lightweight flexible glass device. Potential applications span various fields but one of the emerging products to watch is the wearable device. “In the future wearable devices may operate by generating electricity from body heat because the glass has an excellent feature of electrical insulation and thermal conductivity” said Yalikun.

  1. Yalikun, Y., Hosokawa, Y., Iino, T., and Tanaka, Y. "An all-glass 12 μm ultra-thin and flexible micro-fluidic chip fabricated by femtosecond laser processing" Lab on a Chip