Additive Manufacturing of 3D Nano-Architected Metals

Nat Commun. 2018 Feb 9;9(1):593. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03071-9.


Most existing methods for additive manufacturing (AM) of metals are inherently limited to ~20-50 μm resolution, which makes them untenable for generating complex 3D-printed metallic structures with smaller features. We developed a lithography-based process to create complex 3D nano-architected metals with ~100 nm resolution. We first synthesize hybrid organic-inorganic materials that contain Ni clusters to produce a metal-rich photoresist, then use two-photon lithography to sculpt 3D polymer scaffolds, and pyrolyze them to volatilize the organics, which produces a >90 wt% Ni-containing architecture. We demonstrate nanolattices with octet geometries, 2 μm unit cells and 300-400-nm diameter beams made of 20-nm grained nanocrystalline, nanoporous Ni. Nanomechanical experiments reveal their specific strength to be 2.1-7.2 MPa g-1 cm3, which is comparable to lattice architectures fabricated using existing metal AM processes. This work demonstrates an efficient pathway to 3D-print micro-architected and nano-architected metals with sub-micron resolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.