A 4D Nanoprinter for Making and Manipulating Macroscopic Materials

Project: Research project

Project Details


The goal of this project is to develop a 4D Nanoprinter capable of rapidly patterning hard and soft materials across centimeter scales with nanometer-scale resolution. The development of this novel tool will require major advances in fundamental understandings that will overcome the deficiencies of current techniques in terms of resolution, registration, tolerance of topography, throughput, and materials complexity and generality. The 4D Nanoprinter will impact many diverse areas including biology, metamaterials, chemical sensing, bioengineering, and next generation computing. Through coordinated experimental and modeling efforts directed by a team of five PIs, we will address key challenges related to controlling hard and soft nanoscale architectures over massive scales with orthogonal control over material properties on a local scale using externally applied stimuli. In order to achieve this, we have divided the challenges into two topical areas pertaining to the architecture and lithographic process and the study of novel ink chemistries. In particular, we have introduced the enabling idea of cantilever-free scanning probes as a massively scalable nanopatterning tool, and we propose to develop new and orthogonal ink chemistries for patterning structural and functional materials in 3D. In this way, we will have control over three spatial dimensions and functionality (thus 4D nanoprinting and the equivalent of a “color” 3D printer). Importantly, this is an ideal project for a MURI as no single PI could accomplish it, the successful completion of this project will require the collaboration of all five participants. Thus, we will study many fundamental aspects of this process including: (1) methods for scaling to million-tip scanning probe arrays in which each probe is individually addressed, (2) novel techniques to achieve both feature sizes and registration accuracies below 100 nm, (3) processes that accommodate surfaces that have micron-scale variations in surface topography and significant curvature. Additionally, a major aspect of this proposal is the study of novel chemistries, including (1) photochemistry of multi-stimuli responsive polymers, (2) tip-directed growth mechanics of polymers and biological structures on surfaces, (3) tip-directed DNA-mediated nanoparticle assembly on surfaces, (4) facile incorporation of biological moieties including massive proteins, and (5) patterning of nanowires (e.g. carbon nanotubes) of desired properties. The proposed research program will have a major impact on the DoD by providing the fundamental foundation for a new generation of tools for forming nano-architectures over large scales. By accommodating not just the hard materials common to integrated circuit technology, but also the soft materials that are important in biological research and next generation electronics, this research sets the stage for a new generation of studies and devices that transform the scope of nanoscale research. Importantly, integrated throughout the program will be research experiences for university-trained personnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Army Research Laboratories, as well as opportunities for DoD scientists to work collaboratively in the labs of the university researchers.
Effective start/end date12/1/1512/14/21


  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-16-1-0150/P0006)


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