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Complex, three-dimensional (3-D) structures are regularly constructed using a reliable commercial method of 3-D laser micro- and nanoprinting. In a recent study, Frederik Mayer and co-workers in Germany and Australia have presented a new system in which a microfluidic chamber could be integrated on a laser 3-D lithography device to construct multimaterial structures using more than one constituent material. The new method can eliminate the existing need to transfer between lithography techniques and chemistry labs for a streamlined manufacturing process.
As a proof-of-principle, the scientists created 3-D deterministic microstructured security feature devices using seven materials. These included (1) a nonfluorescent photoresist (light sensitive material) to build the device backbone, (2) two photoresists containing different fluorescent quantum dots, (3) two more photoresists with different fluorescent dyes and (4) two developers. 3-D optical security features are typically manufactured through multi-step laser lithography and chemistry techniques.
Microstructures - Security - Features - Scaffold - Fluorescent
Microstructures for such security features usually contain a nonfluorescent 3-D cross-grid scaffold and built-in fluorescent markers realized with semiconductor quantum dots arranged onto the scaffold at will to encode a message. The resulting microstructure/security features can be read using optical sectioning methods such as 3-D confocal fluorescence scanning microscopy. The new system proposed by Mayer et al. therefore opens a door to engineer multimaterials in 3-D additive manufacture at the micro- and nanoscale on a combined microfluidic-lithography setup.
3-D laser printing technology or 3-D laser micro- and nano-printing emerged more than 20 years ago and is now widespread. Current applications are ubiquitous from 3-D photonic crystals to photonic wire bonds, 3-D printed free-form surfaces, micro-optics for 3-D optical circuitry and micromirrors. Applications also include optical microlens systems based on 3-D mechanical metamaterials, 3-D security features, to 3-D microscaffolds for cell culture and 3-D printed micromachines. In a majority of published microstructures, however, scientists only used one main material to create...
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