Researchers 3D Print Semiconductors with Molecular Glue

3D printing has gained prominence in diverse industries, transitioning from a niche to a widely-adopted manufacturing method. The efficacy of a 3D printed object is contingent upon the strength of bonds between its material layers. This aspect has hindered the 3D printing of semiconductors as conventional methods involving polymer binders can impede the end product’s optimal performance.

Researchers 3D Print Semiconductors with Molecular Glue
3D printed a luminous dragon-shaped pixel array. (Image Credit: Tsinghua University)

Addressing this, Tsinghua University researchers have introduced an enhanced technique. Their method, termed “3D Pin”, eschews polymer binders, instead employing semiconductor nanocrystals in a special colloidal ink. This ink includes a molecular adhesive which, upon laser activation, solidifies bonds between the nanocrystals, culminating in sturdy 3D configurations.

3D Pin boasts remarkable precision, making it suitable for printing quantum dots—nano-sized entities prevalent in LED TVs, solar panels, and medical tools. The research team demonstrated the technology’s prowess by 3D printing a luminous dragon-shaped pixel array using red and blue semiconductor crystals (pictured above).

This versatile ink formulation can produce a range of semiconductors, metals, and semiconductor oxides. Unlike traditional integrated circuit methodologies which are planar, 3D Pin directly forms three-dimensional constructs. Not intended to supplant current integrated circuit production, it aims to enhance it, especially for 3D structure-requiring devices.


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