New Technique Converts 2D Nanostructures into 3D Forms

By | Jan 10, 2015 05:24 AM EST
3D microstructures

3D microstructures made of silicon created from a concept based on pop-up books(Photo : University of Illinois)

Scientists have discovered a distinctive procedure for geometrically transforming two dimensional (2D) micro/nanostructures into extended 3D layouts by mimicking children's pop-up books.

These complicated 3D micro/nanostructures are prevalent in biology and underpin vital functions in the most fundamental forms of life. Using 3D micro/nanostructures in man-made systems offers fantastic possibilities.

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These forms can be used in energy storage, biomedical devices, metamaterials, microelectromechanical components, photonics and optoelectronics, among many others.

Researchers said these complex structures could one day help scientists electronically control living tissue.

Devices imitating the complex structures found in nature are very difficult to make on microscopic scales. Researcers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a simple strategy for manufacturing 3D micro/nanostructures that have flat 2D structures pop-up into 3D shapes.

To assemble these structures, scientists produce 2D patterns of ribbons on stretched elastic silicone rubber. The ribbons are as small as 100 nanometers wide or about 1,000 times thinner than the average human hair. These can be made from a variety of materials, including silicon and nickel.

The tension on the silicone rubber is discharged after the 2D designs are made. The weak points of stickiness shatter and up pops a 3D structure.

Researchers have created over 40 different geometric designs ranging from single and multiple spirals and rings to peacocks, flowers, tables, tents and starfish. Scientists can even arrange patterns with multiple layers.

This strategy is fast, cheaper and can use many different materials used in electronics to build a wide variety of microscopic structures.

In addition, researchers can build many different structures at one time. They can also include different materials into hybrid structures.

The details of the new pop-up 3D strategy were published online in the journal, Science.

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