Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing technologies)
Our primary research is to develop the next generation of high volume, scalable 3D micro/nano manufacturing technologies capable of fabrication materials with sub-micron resolutions. Fabrication and characterizations of these nano-structured hierarchical materials will be made possible by leveraging the unique opto-mechanical platforms for fabrication of highly complex, three-dimensional structures with micro-scale architecture and submicron precision. Two distinct caterogeries of feedstock material capabilities will be developed: 1) The ability to assemble a variety of intrinsic materials (polymer, metallic or alumina at~10-100nm) into a larger material (10cm-10mm) with three-dimensional arbitary features. 2) 3D manufacturing of nanostructured material such as nanowires, nanocomposite, microparticles of aerogels and hydrogels with encapsulated biomolecules into three-dimensional object at the mm-cm scales.
Most commonly, material properties (such as density, strength, toughness, stiffness, thermal) are highly coupled in natural and man-made materials. The aim of this research is to capitalize the unique benefits of micro and nano-architectures spanning multiple hierarchical levels to create new materials that possess combinations of bulk, multi-functional properties. Although theoretical studies have been done to predict the beneficial behavior of incorporating hierarchical or fractal like 3D architectures, few studies can fully harness the potential of structural and material hierarchy onto bulk materials, due to the limitation on size, architecture and material scalability on existing fabrication technologies.
Fractal like 3D nanoarchitectures
Hierarchical Metamaterials: An ultralight Nickel phosphorous metamaterials comprised of disparate 3D micro-architectures across over 7 orders of magnitude in length-scale.
X. Zheng*, et al Nature Materials (Cover), 15, 1100–1106 (2016)
Combination of dissimilar mechanism from disparate hierarchies
Multi-functional metamaterials and devices for energy, structural and biological applications
Due to the hierarchical architected layout and the adaptation to a variety of material constituents, these new meta-materials that are engineered from a variety of intrinsic materials will have a large array of multi-functionality applications ranging from electric-mechancical energy conversion, tailered biodegradability, designed thermal-mechanical properties to bio-mechanical properties with adaptive stiffness of certain tissue and cell types. Efforts will be focused on the following areas 1) Biodegradable tunable microlattices for accelerated cell growth and wound healing 2) Functionally graded 3D material with biomolecules for biosecurity and countermeasures 3) 3D Flexible electronics for advanced sensing and actuations 4) Energy materials: hierarchical materials with ultra-high energy density for battery and catalyst applications