New Process 3D Prints Glass Microstructures at Low Temperature with Fast Curing

a 3D printed silica glass "GT" logo

A “GT” logo glass at only 120 x 80 micrometers. The structures was 3D printed using a process developed in Jerry Qi's lab that allows creation of transparent tiny structures at low temperatures.

Using ultraviolet light instead of extremely high temperatures, a team of Georgia Tech researchers has developed a new approach for 3D printing small glass lenses and other structures that would be useful for medical devices and research applications.

Their process reduces the heat required to convert printed polymer resin to silica glass from 1,100 degrees Celsius to around 220 degrees C and shortens the curing time from half a day or more to just five hours. They’ve used it to produce all kinds of glass microstructures, including tiny lenses approximately the width of a human hair that could be used for medical imaging inside the body.

Led by George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering Professor H. Jerry Qi, the team described their approach Oct. 4 in the journal Science Advances.

“This is one of the exploratory examples showing that it is possible to fabricate ceramics at mild conditions, because silica is a kind of ceramic,” Qi said. “It is a very challenging problem. We have a team that includes people from chemistry and materials science engaged in a data-driven approach to push the boundary and see if we can produce more ceramics with this approach.”

Read the full story on the College of Engineering website.

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Joshua Stewart
College of Engineering