As a step toward advanced nanotechnology, general methods for producing complex nanoscale structures in three dimensions are useful stepping stones from current nanotech to atomically precise functional nanosystems. Although the nanomaterials and nanostructures produced are far from atomically precise, a recently developed method of using a micropipette and rapidly drying ink to draw long fibers and complex 3D structures is an important advance.
Excerpts from a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign news release “New process makes nanofibers in complex shapes and unlimited lengths“
The continuous fabrication of complex, three-dimensional nanoscale structures and the ability to grow individual nanowires of unlimited length are now possible with a process developed by researchers at the University of Illinois.
Based on the rapid evaporation of solvent from simple “inks,” the process has been used to fabricate freestanding nanofibers, stacked arrays of nanofibers and continuously wound spools of nanowires. Potential applications include electronic interconnects, biocompatible scaffolds and nanofluidic networks.
“The process is like drawing with a fountain pen — the ink comes out and quickly dries or ‘solidifies,’ ” said Min-Feng Yu, a professor of mechanical science and engineering, and an affiliate of the Beckman Institute. “But, unlike drawing with a fountain pen, we can draw objects in three dimensions.”