Nanotechnology used to print 3D microstructures

17 September 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

Scientists in the US have devised a means of printing tiny 3D microstructures using nanotechnology principles.

The experts from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) discovered that 3D blood vessels can be created within seconds using the process in question.

Microscale 3D structures are made out of soft, biocompatible hydrogels and could provide better systems for the growth and study of cells, potentially enhancing research in fields such as regenerative medicine.

Reporting the findings in the journal Advanced Materials, NanoEngineering Professor Shaochen Chen of UCSD said that the biofabrication technique developed by his team allows for more complex geometrics than current 3D fabrication techniques by using a computer projection system and precisely controlled micromirrors.

The potential range of applications for the nanotechnology breakthroughs continues to grow, with specialists from the University at Buffalo suggesting that computer chips of the future could use vanadium oxide bronze rather than silicon.

According to the team, the synthesized nanowires they have produced from vanadium oxide and lead could improve the speed at which information can be transferred and stored.

In an article for Advanced Function Materials, they explained the electrical properties of the wires may make them ideal for switching components within devices, meaning computers of the future may be far less reliant on silicon.

The nanowires change from insulators to conductors when exposed to an applied voltage near room temperature, potentially making them usable to carry binary code.

"Silicon computing technology is running up against some fundamental road blocks, including switching speeds. The voltage-induced phase transition in the material we created provides a way to make that switch at a higher speed," explained Sarbajit Banerjee, Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University at Buffalo.

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