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Game-Changing Finding Pushes 3D Printing to the Molecular Limit

By University of Nottingham (U.K.)

June 21, 2018

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Research at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. validates the ability to three-dimensionally (3D)-print advanced materials with molecules that switch states in response to environmental stimuli such as light.

The researchers think this breakthrough could greatly boost the functionality of 3D-printed devices for various industries.

"Using a unique integrated design approach, we have demonstrated functional synergy between photochromic molecules and polymers in a fully 3D-printed device," says Nottingham's Victor Sans Sangorrin.

The team designed a photoactive molecule that shifts hue from colorless to blue when irradiated with light, while exposure to oxygen from the air triggers reversion to colorlessness.

The researchers then 3D-printed composite materials by mixing these molecules with a customized polymer, generating a new material that can store data reversibly.

"While our devices currently operate using color changes, this approach could be used to develop materials for energy storage and electronics," notes Nottingham's Graham Newton.

From University of Nottingham (U.K.)
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