Perspective3D Printing

Printing nanomaterials in shrinking gels

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Science  14 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6420, pp. 1244-1245
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav5712

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Summary

The creation of nanoscale electronics, photonics, plasmonics, and mechanically robust metamaterials will benefit from nanofabrication processes that allow a designer full control in manipulating nanomaterial precursors in a programmable and volumetric manner. Despite decades of research, it remains challenging to design nanofabrication processes that can produce complex free-form three-dimensional (3D) objects at the scale of tens of nanometers. On page 1281 of this issue, Oran et al. (1) report on the photopatterning of reactive sites into water-swollen, chemically cross-linked acrylic gels for the subsequent site-specific deposition of nanomaterials and nanoparticles. After chemical and thermal dehydration, the gel scaffold holds the nanomaterials in a distinct 3D arrangement. This process, termed implosion fabrication (ImpFab) because the scaffold of the gel effectively “implodes” upon solvent removal, provides an opportunity to fabricate centimeter-scale assemblies of nanomaterials that possess multiple functionalities.