Today we are dipped into micro and nano-scales world. Where 3D printing is contributing the development of micro technology and nanotechnology.
What is 3D printing Nanotechnology and Microtechnology
Let’s start by explaining what Nanotechnology and Microtechnology in our 3D nanotechnology articles
It is the technology that allows us to manufacture things in the nanometer scale (nm and HM).
A nanometer is one billionth of a meter (there is nothing).
To get an idea, a nanometer size is between 3 to five atoms.
The nanometer is the small measurement which we can use as far as 3d printing nanoparticles for material objects.
It is the technology that allows us to manufacture things in the micron scale (also called micron).
A micron is one millionth of a meter.
This is the scale used to build small devices such as memories, logic and computing circuits.
Now that we are clear about what these two concepts are, we can get into the subject with something more basic.
Very real applications
As a general rule, when we think about all the electronic functions that we have on hand (as example, mobile phones) we do not usually realize that all this exists by the help of nano and microtechnology.
In recent years the demand of smaller devices has been growing exponentially. As applications such as minimotors, microsatellites, medical microimplants and methods for non-invasive surgery, microrobots, etc. The list is very long and each element equal or more interesting than the previous one.
The development of these technological advances & shrinking tendency, nano printer technology is proving to be a very powerful method. The reason is the development of different methods with 3D printing that are allowing work at reduced scales to micro and nano dimensions to allow such important applications as bionics, microelectronics, microchip printing, microfluidic devices, scaffolding for engineering tissues, or devices for the release of drugs. All of them have already become essential and every day’s applications. We can find practically the surprises technology we use frequently that surrounds us.
Impressions in small dimensions
For the time now, the company Nanoscribe has been able to apply stereolithography (one of the additive manufacturing techniques) to the nanoscopic world. We are talking about resolutions less than 100 microns with a very high quality. This system was called GT Professional Photonic System and is now commercially available, offering not only an unimaginable printing resolution but also high speed too.
Thanks to a polymer printing system based on a laser (addressed by means of a system of mobile mirrors) it is possible to print high complexity figures in nanometric scale sizes with a high final quality in a seconds.
The ability of 3D printing for nanoscale photonic welding has led to a large transformation of computers to avoid bottlenecks in data centers.
On the other hand, biotechnology at the nanoscopic level facilitates the controlled growth all kinds of living cells.
It is also giving rise to the creation of new materials with very precise characteristics and qualities, such as the addable fabric of the Spiderman suit, to give an example that we can all easily imagine and recognize.
Another important application is the creation of nanofluidic filters inside channels of (only one micrometer wide), nanofluidic circuits. With this technology, scientist can easily handles such an extremely small scales. There also necessary to create specific software such as Nanowrite, Nanoslicer or DeScribe, similar to those used with any desktop printer but that allow any professional task easily.
More powerful microscopes and on-demand sensors
The latest advances in this field comes from researchers from the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, who have managed to print nanoscale sensors in 3D, thus improving atomic microscopes. These sensors greatly improve the sensitivity and detection speed of microscopes.
Because the sensor detect movements smaller than an atom, that’s why special techniques are required.
Explained in more detail: On a substrate, a precursor gas containing platinum atoms (with a very high conductivity) and carbon atoms is scattered in a vacuum. Then, an electron beam is applied, then the platinum atoms gather to form nanoparticles, finally, the carbon atoms naturally generate a matrix that surrounds them.
By repeating this process, sensors can be built with any thickness or shape that you want.
This new technique can have very broad applications, ranging from biosensors, sensors for the ABS of cars to touch sensors in flexible membranes such as prosthetics or artificial skin.
The possibilities of nano printer technology will be enormous in future.