Sensors with 3D printed plasmonic plastic are developed by researchers at


Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have made a groundbreaking discovery in the field of 3D printing. They have developed a composite material called 3D printed plasmonic plastic, which possesses unique optical properties. This breakthrough has opened up new possibilities for the production of optical hydrogen sensors, which are crucial for the advancement of green energy and various industries.

In the past, plasmonic metal nanoparticles were primarily used on flat surfaces and required complex cleanroom lab production. But this pioneering project aimed to create 3D plasmonic objects using sustainable methods, taking advantage of the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of plastics and 3D printing technology. The resulting plasmonic plastic is made up of a polymer and colloidal metal nanoparticles, allowing for the 3D printing of objects of varying sizes and weights.

The main focus of this research was to develop plasmonic sensors capable of detecting hydrogen, thus creating a new realm of optical sensor technology based on plasmons. “Different types of sensors are needed to speed up development in medicine, or the use of hydrogen as an alternative carbon-free fuel,” said Professor Christoph Langhammer, the leader of the project. The key factor was finding the right balance between the polymer and nanoparticles during the fabrication of these sensors. The plasmonic plastic not only enables additive manufacturing and scalability in the material manufacturing process but also acts as a filter, allowing only the smallest molecules to pass through. In the case of hydrogen detection, this prevents the sensor from becoming deactivated over time.

One interesting aspect of these sensors is that the metal nanoparticles change color when they come into contact with hydrogen. This color change provides an immediate alert if hydrogen levels become dangerous, which is crucial for managing this potentially flammable gas. The applications of this research go beyond the production of sensors, as it has the potential to revolutionize various fields such as healthcare, wearable technology, and even art and fashion.

This discovery not only unlocks the possibilities for scalable sensor production but also expands the horizons for the use of plasmonic plastics in numerous industries. The future looks bright for 3D printed plasmonic plastic, thanks to the efforts of these innovative researchers at Chalmers University of Technology.

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