Characterization and Optimization of Real-Time Photoresponsive Gelatin for Direct Laser Writing
There is an abundance of plastic materials used in the widest range of applications, such as packaging, machine parts, biomedical devices and components, etc. However, most materials used today are non-decomposable in the environment, producing a huge burden on ecosystems. The search for better, safer alternatives is still on. Here we present a detailed analysis of a simple, cheap, non-toxic, even edible, eco-friendly material, which can be easily manufactured, laser patterned and used for the fabrication of complex structures. The base substance is gelatin which is made photoresponsive by adding plasticizers and sensitizers. The resulting films were analyzed with respect to their optical, thermal and mechanical properties, which can be modified by a slight variation of chemical composition. The material is optimized for rapid laser-manufacturing of elastic microstructures (lenses, gratings, cantilevers, etc.) without any waste or residues. Overall, the material properties were tailored to increase photothermal responsivity, improve the surface quality and achieve material homogeneity, transparency and long-term stability (as verified using electron microscopy, infrared spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry).