3-D Printing with in situ Microscopy

In a world where 3-D printing and nanotechnology are becoming commonplace, Dr. Ray Unocic has discovered a way to do both simultaneously.

 In a recent paper in Nanoscale, Dr. Unocic and colleagues from Oak Ridge National Lab outline a technique and preliminary results for a completely new type of material printing process. Using an aberration-corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (STEM), fitted with a Protochips Poseidon Select liquid cell, they were able to turn the electron beam into a sub angstrom, palladium-writing nanoparticle generator. This was possible by filling the liquid cell with an H2PdCl4 solution that reduces under the electron beam to form Pd nanoparticles in a process called “radiolysis”. By adjusting the electron beam position, dwell time and spot size, Dr. Unocic was able to draw shapes, letters, and even entire words into the liquid cell. With the electron beam being smaller than a single atom, this technique could allow scientists to 3-D print objects on an unprecedented tiny scale.

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