Extreme laser micromarking application for nuclear research

Potomac Photonics completes project for U. Michigan supporting research on how reactors affect different types of metal alloys.

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Lanham, MD - Potomac Photonics recently completed a precision laser micromarking project for the University of Michigan that helps support research on how extreme conditions in nuclear power reactors affect different types of metal alloys.

In order to keep track of the 100 samples of each of eight different types of alloys that will be placed in a high flux nuclear reactor, each was assigned a unique three-digit code. This code had a maximum height of 250 microns and was to be laser marked on parts that were only 3 mm in diameter and 250 microns thick. These markings will allow researchers to identify each sample and effectively trace what conditions and experiments it was exposed to.

After exposure, the mechanical properties of the samples were measured by shear punch and hardness indentation. Thus, the surfaces of the samples need to be free of any defects. The structure and chemistry of the material will be measured by electron microscopy and atom probe tomography.

Potomac Photonics designed and built a special fixture capable of holding the miniature samples so the samples could be marked quickly in precise locations. In addition, the process was capable of marking eight different types of material and was developed so that each of the markings could be read at a minimal magnification level of 15X.

Micromarking technology is becoming more prevalent in a wide array of applications, including serialization of microdevices, covert identification, and counterfeit detection. In determining the appropriate laser solution, the critical factors to consider are part size, material, and mark size requirements. Potomac has a broad range of micromarking technology with the capability to mark almost any material with features as small as 1 micron.

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