MRS Bulletin

Technical Feature

Technical Feature

Laser Direct-Write Processing

Craig B. Arnold and Alberto Piqué


Direct-write techniques enable computer-controlled two- and three-dimensional pattern formation in a serial fashion. Among these techniques, the versatility offered by laser-based direct-write methods is unique, given their ability to add, remove, and modify different types of materials without physical contact between a tool or nozzle and the material of interest. Laser pulses used to generate the patterns can be manipulated to control the composition, structure, and even properties of individual three-dimensional volumes of materials across length scales spanning six orders of magnitude, from nanometers to millimeters. Such resolution, combined with the ability to process complex or delicate material systems, enables laser direct-write tools to fabricate structures that are not possible to generate using other serial or parallel fabrication techniques. The goal of the articles in this issue of MRS Bulletin is to illustrate the range of materials processing capabilities, fundamental research opportunities, and commercially viable applications that can be achieved using recently developed laser direct-write techniques. We hope that the articles provide the reader with a fresh perspective on the challenges and opportunities that these powerful techniques offer for the fabrication of novel devices and structures.

Craig B. Arnold, Guest Editor for this issue of MRS Bulletin, is an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University with a joint appointment in the Princeton Institute for Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM) and affiliations in electrical engineering and the Princeton Environmental Institute. He received his BS degree in physics and math from Haverford College in 1994, his PhD degree in physics from Harvard University in 2000, and worked as a National Research Council postdoctoral associate prior to joining the faculty of Princeton in 2003. His current research focuses on laser processing and transport in materials, with a particular focus on energy storage, biomaterials, and photonic materials.

Arnold received a Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research in 2005 and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2006. He currently serves as chair of the MRS Academic Affairs Committee and as an associate editor of the Journal of Laser Micro/Nanoengineering.

Arnold can be reached at Princeton University, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Engineering Quadrangle, 1 Olden St., Princeton, NJ 08544 USA; tel. 609-258-0250 and e-mail

Alberto Piqué, Guest Editor for this issue of MRS Bulletin, is head of the Electronic and Optical Materials and Devices Section in the Materials Science Division at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Piqué holds BS and MS degrees in physics from Rutgers University and a PhD degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Maryland. His group at the NRL pioneered the use of laser-based direct-write techniques for rapid prototyping of electronic, sensor, and micropower generation devices. His research interests include the study of processes involving laser–material interactions, particularly those relevant to pulsed laser deposition and laser forward transfer as applied to the fabrication of thin films, multilayers, and embedded structures.

In addition to coediting the book Direct-Write Technologies for Rapid Prototyping Applications, Piqué has more than 130 scientific publications and holds 15 U.S. patents in laser materials processing. He is also an associate editor for the Journal of Laser Micro/Nanoengineering.

Piqué can be reached at the Naval Research Laboratory, Code 6364, 4555 Overlook Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20375 USA; tel. 202-767-5653 and e-mail