The Caltech team utilizes additive manufacturing to fabricate structures that are as small as viruses.


Caltech researchers have recently made a groundbreaking achievement in the field of 3D printing at the nanoscale. Led by Julia R. Greer and her team, they have successfully created metal objects with a size of 150 nanometers, which is comparable to the size of the flu virus.

What makes this accomplishment even more remarkable is the unconventional approach the researchers took. Instead of aiming for perfection in the atomic arrangements of the metal structures, they embraced disorder. Surprisingly, this resulted in nanosized metal parts that are three-to-five times stronger than their counterparts with more ordered atomic structures.

The process begins with a photosensitive hydrogel “cocktail” that is selectively hardened with a laser to create a 3D scaffold mimicking the desired metal object’s shape. These hydrogel structures are then infused with nickel ions, baked to remove the hydrogel, and chemically stripped of oxygen atoms to convert the metal oxide back into a metallic form.

The end result is metal structures filled with defects, which would typically be considered flaws. However, at the nanoscale, these defects play a crucial role in preventing catastrophic failures. They distribute deformation evenly throughout the material, enhancing its overall strength.

Greer and her team are excited about the potential applications of this technique. They believe it opens the door for 3D printing metal structures at the nanoscale for various purposes, including catalysts, storage electrodes, sensors, and even microrobots.

This discovery challenges conventional wisdom in the field of material science. It demonstrates that imperfections can sometimes be a feature rather than a flaw. By intentionally introducing defects into the metal structures, the researchers are able to enhance their strength and durability.

The research paper detailing this breakthrough, titled “Suppressed Size Effect in Nanopillars with Hierarchical Microstructures Enabled by Nanoscale Additive Manufacturing,” has been published in the journal Nano Letters. If you’re interested in delving deeper into the technical aspects of this research, I encourage you to read it.

Finally, we would love to hear your thoughts on this groundbreaking achievement. You can leave your comments on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. And be sure to sign up for our weekly additive manufacturing newsletter to stay up-to-date with all the latest advancements in this exciting field.

Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

Like it? Share with your friends!


Meet the mastermind behind GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
The Classic Internet Listicles
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube and Vimeo Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format