Researchers have developed a cost-effective and user-friendly solution that promises to expand the horizons of precision printing, enabling the creation of intricate 3D structures at the nanometer scale. This transformative technology can potentially revolutionize various fields, from optical devices to biological research. At the forefront of this remarkable innovation is a team led by Cuifang Kuang from Zhejiang Lab and Zhejiang University in China. The researchers have devised an ingenious approach that harnesses a two-step absorption process, achieving nanometer-level accuracy in 3D printing. Unlike conventional methods that rely on expensive femtosecond lasers, this novel technique employs an integrated fiber-coupled continuous-wave laser diode, making the process affordable and accessible to a broader range of scientists.
Kuang emphasizes the system’s versatility: “It can be used for various applications such as printing micro or nanostructures for studying biological cells or fabricating the specialized optical waveguides used for virtual and augmented reality devices.”By simplifying the process and minimizing the need for intricate optical setups, the new 3D nano-printing system promises to democratize nanofabrication. Kuang envisions a future where even non-experts can harness the power of precision nano printing, opening the doors to innovative research and applications. The core of this revolutionary system lies in a two-step absorption technique, which involves a special photoinitiator called benzil and a 405-nm-wavelength integrated fiber-coupled laser. The laser beam is meticulously directed onto galvanometric mirrors before being focused onto the photosensitive material using a high-numerical-aperture microscope objective. This streamlined approach minimizes complexities, reduces costs, and ensures stable, high-quality results. The capabilities of this 3D nano-printing system are exemplified through its impressive creations. The researchers have successfully printed 2D line gratings and intricate 3D woodpile nanostructures with a lateral period of 350 nm. Even at a faster scan speed of 1000 microns per second, the system maintains its precision, crafting sub-200-nm resolution 2D gratings with sub-50-nm line widths using minimal laser power. The researchers tirelessly work to enhance the system’s speed and quality while preserving its remarkable resolution.
This endeavor is set to propel the 3D nano-printing system into unprecedented possibilities, making it a cornerstone in various scientific and industrial applications.
By Optica. AUGUST 9, 2023. Technology advance could expand the reach of 3D nanoprinting.
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