Direct-write assembly of 3-D micro-periodic structures. (a) Schematic illustration of the ink deposition process. (b) Three-dimensional periodic structure with a face-centered tetragonal geometry (filament diameter: 1 micron). Images courtesy Jennifer Lewis
Like spiders spinning webs, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are creating complex, three-dimensional structures with micron-size features using a robotic deposition process called direct-write assembly.
As reported in the March 25 issue of the journal Nature, Jennifer Lewis and her research team have developed novel inks that readily flow through micro-capillary nozzles and then rapidly solidify to retain their shape. Patterning such fine structures could be useful in applications such as drug-delivery, micro-fluidics, photonics and tissue engineering.
"This research builds upon our previous work with colloid-based inks, and represents a major step forward in both ink design and pattern resolution," said Lewis, a Willett Faculty Scholar and a professor of materials science and engineering and of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Illinois. "Because this new ink is based solely on polyelectrolyte mixtures rather than colloidal particles, we are able to produce three-dimensional periodic structures with feature sizes that are 100 times smaller than before."
James E. Kloeppel | UIUC
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