Researchers Develop Incredible Process To Shrink Objects

Posted: Dec 16 2018, 11:03pm CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Researchers Develop Incredible Process to Shrink Objects
Credit: Daniel Oran

New technique can generate 3D printed structures one thousandth the volume of the original.

It is possible to shrink objects down to nanoscale levels using 3D printing, thanks to a new technique developed by MIT researchers.

The technique relies on an approach called "implosion fabrication” to print 3D structures at nanoscale. For the nanofabrication process, researchers made very absorbent scaffold out of polyacrylate, a material used in nappies. Then, other useful materials were attached to the gel scaffold using laser. When material dehydrated, it shrunk 10-fold in each dimension.

The technique MIT researchers have developed could be used in a wide variety of applications, from optics to medicine to robotics.

"It's a bit like film photography - a latent image is formed by exposing a sensitive material in a gel to light. Then, you can develop that latent image into a real image by attaching another material, silver, afterwards. In this way implosion fabrication can create all sorts of structures, including gradients, unconnected structures, and multimaterial patterns.” Study co-lead author Daniel Oran said.

In 3-D printing, an object is built layer by layer. However, nanoscale three-dimensional structures still pose problems for researchers. Nanoscale structures are far too small to be seen with the naked eye but they can hold surprising properties. But now researchers have been able to create nanoscale 3D objects of nearly any shape by reversing expansion microscopy. Expansion microscopy is a technique that embeds tissue into a hydrogel and then expands it. Using implosion fabrication, they shrink large-scale objects embedded in hydrogels to nanoscale.

Co-lead author Samuel Rodriques says. "People have been trying to invent better equipment to make smaller nanomaterials for years, but we realized that if you just use existing systems and embed your materials in this gel, you can shrink them down to the nanoscale, without distorting the patterns.”

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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