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Part of the 3D printed metamaterial series, this article continues to examine nano 3D printing technology. This is a method for printing nanoscale electronic and biomedical devices. They are typically used as research tools. Researchers currently study how to print microscopic objects and achieve macrophysical property changes.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory developed a project to investigate these possibilities. Using a projection micrography technique (PmSL), a plan that can support 10,000 pounds was created. The key to such far-reaching powers lies, as with many metamaterials that we have explored, in the structure’s geometries.
The LLNL team created the microlattice structure by using a projector to project ultraviolet light from an LED onto a micromirror. It reflected light through a number of optical elements and then projected the photopolymerization light on to the slot. They tested several lattice configurations to determine which one was most rigid and strongest.

While polymer resin is the primary material used, researchers are able to create metal or ceramic microlattices structures using metal and/or ceramic materials added to the gum. Then the thermal energy from the heat can be used to melt the polymer. It is stronger and lighter than the original object.

LLNL has expanded this technology based on these findings in a variety of ways. LLNL has applied this technology to the optimization of the helmet design by using metamaterials and 3D printers. Researchers compared traditional elastomer and metamaterials that were made from 3D printed layers of polymer thin layer. They found that 3D printing polymers age more slowly than conventional elastomers, while elastomers tend to age quicker. Another study has also examined copper-polymer combinations that shrink when heated.

Cheng Zhu is a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researcher and Wen Chen is a former postdoctoral associate in the laboratory. They created an ink that contains silver and gold particles. Once the parts had been printed, they were heated to make the metal and silver alloy. This is done to make porous gold.

But even nanoscale systems are possible to be designed in a much more sophisticated manner. Max Planck Institute of Light Sciences developed a technique that is described as prelude to the development of atomic-level printers. This technology couples light and a single electron or nanoparticle within a parabolic mirror to achieve light waveclipping.

You can focus the space-time distribution, polarization vector and oscillation direction (or the electric field) on an object at a smaller scale that the wavelength of the light. To create unique nanostructures, the team used this technique to produce them. They believe it is possible with laser beams to catch a single electron and to construct structures of unusual atomic precision.

While nano and microscale 3D printer powder may allow for the manipulation of micro-worlds of cells, the majority of research done is to be applied at the macro scale. Many scientific teams have been working to develop these objects in nanoscale scale and later deploy them outside of the lab. Virginia Tech scientists are investigating the effects of magnifying structured materials by seven orders. In addition to two-photon polymerization the team developed tens of millimeter-sized parts made of nanoscale hollow tube metal components. They proved their tensile elasticity is 400% better than comparable products that do not have structured nano-features.

LLNL is committed to combining traditional stereolithography with nanoscale printing through large-area projected microscopic stereolithography. In this way, LLNL expands the scope of nanoimprinting. Bryan Moran was the original inventor. He described the LAPmSL system as similar to creating a mosaic, then merging it to create a larger picture. Each tile contains many details and together they create a movie. It is an innovative tool which can quickly make larger parts and is also more practical.

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