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Synchrotron radiation etching of polymers and optical crystals which are transparent throughout the spectral range from visible to ultraviolet has been carried out without using any chemicals, successfully creating high-aspect-ratio microstructures for micromachining. A detailed study of the etching rates by varying the synchrotron beam current, sample temperature, beam size and aspect ratio showed that this synchrotron radiation process is essentially different from laser ablation, while an in situ mass spectrometric analysis of gaseous etching products showed that the dissociation mechanism involved with the synchrotron radiation processing, even with heating, is completely different from the thermal dissociation of the laser ablation.
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