3D silicon microstructures formed using concepts similar to those in children’s pop-up books, shown here based on a colorized scanning electron micrograph.
‘Pop-up’ fabrication technique trumps 3D printing
Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a simple new fabrication technique to create beautiful, complex 3D micro- and nanostructures with advantages over 3D printing for a variety of uses. The technique mimics the action of a children’s pop-up book — starting as a flat two-dimensional structure and popping up into a more complex 3D structure. Using a variety of advanced materials, including silicon, the researchers produced more than 40 different geometric designs, including shapes resembling a peacock, flower, starburst, table, basket, tent, and starfish.
“In just one shot you get your structure,” said Northwestern’s Yonggang Huang, one of three co-corresponding authors on the study. “We first fabricate a two-dimensional structure on a stretched elastic material. Then we release the tension, and up pops a 3-D structure. The 2-D structure must have some place to go, so it pops up.”
The pop-up assembly technique is expected to be useful in building biomedical devices, sensors and electronics. It is the current cover story in the Jan. 9 issue of the journal Science.
References:S. Xu, Z. Yan, K. Jang, W. Huang et al. Assembly of micro/nanomaterials into complex, three-dimensional architectures by compressive buckling. Science 9 January 2015: Vol. 347 no. 6218 pp. 154-159 DOI: 10.1126/science.1260960