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Researchers Develop Innovative 3D-Printing Technology for Glass Microstructures

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3D-printed glass lattices, displayed in front of a U.S. penny for scale.

Glass is the preferred material for creating complex microscopic objects, including lenses in compact, high-quality cameras used in smartphones and endoscopes, as well as microfluidic devices used to analyze or process minute amounts of liquid. Yet curren

Credit: Joseph Toombs

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and Germany's Albert Ludwig University have developed a three-dimensional printing process for glass microstructures.

The method expands on a process previously developed by the researchers called computed axial lithography (CAL) to print finer features and in glass.

The researchers used a special resin material containing nanoparticles of glass surrounded by a light-sensitive binder liquid.

The binder is solidified by digital light projections from the printer and removed when the printed object is heated and the particles are fused into a solid object of pure glass.

UC Berkeley's Hayden Taylor said the new "micro-CAL" system method "can print objects in polymers with features down to about 20 millionths of a meter, or about a quarter of a human hair's breadth" and "into glass, with features down to about 50 millionths of a meter."

From University of California, Berkeley
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