Nav: Home

Customized mix of materials for three-dimensional micro- and nanostructures

February 13, 2019

Three-dimensional structures on the micrometer and nanometer scales have a great potential for many applications. An efficient and precise process to print such structures from different materials is now presented by researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Carl Zeiss AG in Science Advances: they integrated a microfluidic chamber into a 3D laser lithography device. Then, they used this system to produce multi-colored, fluorescent security features to protect banknotes, documents, and branded products against counterfeiting. (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau9160)

From components for data processing with light to optical microlenses, mechanical metamaterials, or artificial scaffolds for cell cultures to security features of banknotes or branded products, printed three-dimensional micro- and nanostructures have a large range of applications. 3D laser lithography has become an established, reliable, and versatile process for their production. A laser beam is passed through a liquid photoresist in a computer-controlled way and the material is exposed and hardened at the focal point of the laser beam only. This gives rise to highly precise filigree structures for many applications, including optics and photonics, materials sciences, biotechnology or security technology. Nearly all of the micro- and nanostructures produced by 3D laser lithography so far consist of a single material. But they might also be manufactured from several materials by successive application and hardening of different photoresists, with the unexposed resist being washed out in a subsequent developing bath. Such a process, however, is very time-consuming and complicated and its precision decreases with an increasing number of materials and repetitions.

Within the Cluster of Excellence "3D Matter Made to Order," scientists of KIT's Institutes of Nanotechnology (INT), of Applied Physics (APH), for Chemical Technology and Polymer Chemistry (ITCP), and of the School of Chemistry of Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane/Australia, together with researchers of Carl Zeiss AG, have now developed a new system for the efficient and precise production of printed micro- and nanostructures from several materials. They integrated a microfluidic chamber for the fluids on smallest space directly into a 3D laser lithography device.

In their publication "Multimaterial 3D Laser Microprinting Using an Integrated Microfluidic System" in Science Advances, the researchers report that they used the integrated system to produce three-dimensional microstructured security features from seven different fluids: a non-fluorescent photoresist as backbone, two photoresists with different fluorescent quantum points, two photoresists with different fluorescent dyes, and two developer fluids. Such security features may protect banknotes, documents, and branded products against counterfeiting. A security feature consists of a three-dimensional lattice enclosed by retaining walls and fluorescent markers in different colors.

For their system, the scientists used a 3D laser lithography device developed and commercialized by Nanoscribe GmbH, a spinoff of KIT, and integrated it into a self-developed microfluidic chamber. It is provided with a cover glass of ten millimeters in diameter onto which the 3D structures can be printed. The chamber is connected to an electronic pressure control, up to ten containers for the different photoresists and developers, and a star-shaped selection valve. The fluid selected is passed to a specimen holder via an overpressure valve. Finally, it flows into a waste container. "All steps for producing three-dimensional micro- and nanostructures from several materials can be integrated into one system," says Professor Martin Wegener, who heads the working group at APH. "This system paves the way towards multi-material additive manufacture on the micro- and nanoscale."
Original Publication (Open Access):

Frederik Mayer, Stefan Richter, Johann Westhauser, Eva Blasco, Christopher Barner-Kowollik, Martin Wegener: Multimaterial 3D laser microprinting using an integrated microfluidic system. Science Advances, 8 February 2019. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau9160

Being „The Research University in the Helmholtz Association", KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility and information. For this, about 9,300 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 25,100 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life.

This press release is available on the internet at

Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

Related Nanostructures Articles:

Electron correlations in carbon nanostructures
Graphene nanoribbons are only a few carbon atoms wide and have different electrical properties depending on their shape and width.
Paving a way to achieve unexplored semiconductor nanostructures
A research team of Ehime University paved a way to achieve unexplored III-V semiconductor nanostructures.
Nanostructures help to reduce the adhesion of bacteria
Scientists has shown how bacteria adhere to rough surfaces at the microscopic level.
Diamonds are forever: New foundation for nanostructures
Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have fabricated a novel glass and synthetic diamond foundation that can be used to create miniscule micro -- and nanostructures.
How do atoms vibrate in graphene nanostructures?
Researchers from the University of Vienna, the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Japan, the company JEOL and La Sapienza University in Rome have developed a method capable to measure all phonons existing in a nanostructured material.
Heterophase nanostructures contributing to efficient catalysis
In the research on phase engineering of noble metal nanomaterials, amorphous/crystalline heterophase nanostructures have exhibited some intriguing properties.
Dresden physicists use nanostructures to free photons for highly efficient white OLEDs
Thanks to intensive research in the past three decades, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) have been steadily conquering the electronics market -- from OLED mobile phone displays to roll-out television screens, the list of applications is long.
Self-healing DNA nanostructures
DNA assembled into nanostructures such as tubes and origami-inspired shapes could someday find applications ranging from DNA computers to nanomedicine.
New data on ultrafast electron photoemission from metallic nanostructures obtained
Metallic nanoparticle ensembles are capable of emitting short bunches of electrons when irradiated by powerful laser pulses of femtosecond (1 fs = 10-15 s) duration.
New efficient way to engineer nanostructures mimicking natural immune response complexes
Collaboration between Novo Nordisk and Professor Kurt Gothelf's laboratory at Aarhus University yields novel method to engineer large multi-antibody-like nanostructures using DNA nanotechnology.
More Nanostructures News and Nanostructures Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at