3D Printing- A Game Changer

Problem Definition:

3D printing is a revolutionary disruptive technology – In simplistic language it is printing of 3 dimensional objects. There are many existing technologies for 3D printing such as stereolithography, selective laser sintering, electron beam melting with the goal to stack material layer by layer successively in order to realize a 3D object. Applications taking advantage of 3D printing technology range from  manufacturing prototypes to end-user products such as ready to wear clothing, figurines, smart phone covers, human tissues, bones to even entire human organs. The list is endless.

Another laser-based direct write technique that has gained quite some interest for 3D printing is Laser-Induced Forward Transfer (LIFT). The schematic below depicts the basic principle of LIFT. A thin film of the material (donor) to be deposited is coated onto a laser-transparent substrate. A laser pulse is then focussed at the substrate-donor interface that propels and deposits the donor pixel on to an opposite substrate (receiver). Owing to the several advantages that LIFT offers such as flexibility, simplicity, speed and cost-effectiveness it has been used for printing a variety of materials such as DNAs, CNTs, QDs, OLEDs and so on for a wide range of applications over the past years.


In this thesis, the student will be working towards developing the LIFT technique for 3D printing of bio-sensors. The donor materials (sensing elements) used will be nanoparticle based inks and pastes and the patterns will be printed on to non-planar substrates such as optical fibers, flexible/stretchable waveguides and freestanding structures for bio-sensing and spectroscopic applications. Time permitting the project will also involve printing of bio materials on top of the sensing elements to realize a laser-assisted 3D bio-sensor.


The thesis work primarily comprises of the following tasks:

1) Optimization of the key experimental parameters such as laser fluence, donor thickness and donor-receiver separation to achieve reproducible printing.

2) Characterization of the fabricated device


For all the experiments, the student will use recently installed state-of-the-art ultrafast laser system. To characterize the quality of printed features various characterization tools such as scanning electron microscope, optical microscope and profilometer (stylus, optical) will be used. The student will be working in a cleanroom environment and will be given proper training and induction to cleanroom and all the other tools involved in this work.


Laser Induced Forward Transfer (LIFT), Nano-fabrication, 3D-Printing, Biosensors, Ultra fast lasers


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