A low-cost low-maintenance ultraviolet lithography light source based on light-emitting diodes†
A source of collimated ultraviolet (UV) light is a central piece of equipment needed for lithographic fabrication of microfluidic devices. Conventional UV light sources based on high-pressure mercury lamps require considerable maintenance and provide broad-band illumination with intensity that often changes with time. Here we present a source of narrow-band UV light based on an array of nine 365 nm light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Each LED has two dedicated converging lenses, reducing the divergence of light emanating from it to 5.4°. Partial overlap of the areas illuminated by individual LEDs provides UV illumination with a mean intensity of ~1.7 mW cm−2 and coefficient of variation <3% over a 90 × 90 mm target area. The light source was used to lithographically fabricate micro-reliefs with thicknesses from ~25 to 311 μm with SU8 photoresists. A cumulative irradiation of 370 mJ cm−2 (4 min exposure) produced reliefs of good quality for all SU8 thicknesses. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) replicas of the SU8 reliefs had microchannels with nearly rectangular cross-sections that were highly consistent over the entire target area, and partitions between the channels had depth to width ratios up to 5. The UV light source has also been successfully used for photolithography with positive photoresists, AZ40XT and SPR-220. The proposed light source is built with a total cost of <$1000, consumes a minimal amount of power, is expected to last for ~50 000 exposures, is maintenance-free, and is particularly appealing for small research-and-development microfluidic fabrication.