New technology prints 3D glass microscopic structures with light beams TOU

New technology prints 3D glass microscopic structures with light beams


New technology prints 3D glass microscopic structures with light beams

3D-printed glass lattices will be displayed in front of one US penny. Credit: Joseph Tombs

According to a new study published in the April 15 issue of UC Berkeley, researchers have developed a new approach to 3D-printed glass microscopic structures. Science.

Researchers working with scientists at the University of Albert Ludwig in Freiburg, Germany, have expanded the capabilities of the 3D-printing process developed three years ago — computational print lithography (CAL) – the most intricate features of printing and printing on glass. They called this new system “micro-CAL”.

Glass is the preferred material for the development of complex microscopic objects, including lenses in small, high-quality cameras used in smartphones and endoscopes, as well as microfluidic devices used to analyze or process minute liquid. But current production methods will be slow, expensive, and limited in their ability to meet the growing needs of the industry.

The CAL process is fundamentally different from today’s industrial 3D-printing manufacturing processes, which produce materials from thin layers of material. This technique is time-intensive and results in a rough surface texture. CAL, however, prints the entire object in 3D simultaneously. The researchers use a laser to project the shapes of light into a rotating block of light-sensitive object, creating a 3D light scale and then solidifying it into the desired shape. The layer-less nature of the CAL process enables smooth surfaces and complex geometry.

A 3D-printed, three-dimensional microtubule model. Credit: Adam Lowe / Berkeley Engineering

This study pushes the boundaries of CAL to demonstrate its ability to print microscale features on glass structures. “When we first published this method in 2019, CAL could print features in polymers with a volume of one-third the size of a millimeter,” said Hayden Taylor, UC Berkeley’s lead researcher and professor of mechanical engineering. “Now, with micro-CAL, it is possible to print materials in polymers with features up to about 20 million or a foot width of human hair per meter. For the first time, we have shown how this method can not be printed. Is. ”

To print the glass, Taylor and his research team collaborated with scientists at the University of Freiburg Albert Ludwig. Digital light projections from the printer solidify the binder, and the researchers then heat the printed material to remove the binder and combine the particles into a pure glass solid.

New technology prints 3D glass microscopic structures with light beams

Graduate student Joseph Tumps lays a cradle of a 3D-printed, lattice structure with a pair of tweezers in the lab. Credit: Joseph Tombs

“The key feature here is that the binder has a refractive index, which is similar to the refractive index of glass so that light passes through the material without any scattering,” Taylor said. “The CAL printing process and this glazomer [GmbH]- The created object is a perfect match for each other. ”

The research team, which includes leading author Joseph Tombs, holds a Ph.D. The student in Taylor’s laboratory conducted experiments and found that CAL-printed glassware had a stronger strength than conventional layer-based printing. “Glass materials have a high degree of imperfections or cracks or have a hard surface that can break easily,” Taylor said. “The potential of CAL to produce materials with smoother surfaces than other, layer-based 3D-printing processes is a major potential advantage.”

New technology prints 3D glass microscopic structures with light beams

Electron micrograph scanning of the 3D-printed, hexagonal microlens array. Credit: Joseph Tombs

CAL 3D-printing system provides manufacturers of microscopic glass products with innovative and efficient way to meet customer demand for geometric, dimensional and optical and mechanical properties. In particular, it includes manufacturers of compact cameras, virtual reality headsets, advanced microscopes and microscopic optical components that are an integral part of other scientific instruments. “Creating these components faster and with greater geometric freedom will lead to newer device functions or lower cost products,” Taylor said.

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                                                                                            <strong>More info:</strong>
                                            Joseph d.  Volumetric production of silica glass with microscale computed print lithography, production of tombs et al. <i>Science</i> (2022)  <a data-doi="1" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">DOI: 10.1126 / science.abm6459</a>


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