The efficiency of the photopolymerization technology significantly decreases when the color of materials blackens, which is contributed by the limitations of light penetration. Herein, we demonstrate rapid generation of black 3D objects up to the centimeter level in size based on melanin using near-infrared (NIR) photochemistry. Melanin, of a low absorption coefficient in the NIR range, allows thorough penetration of the 980 nm light to induce emission from upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) for initiating UCNP-assisted photopolymerization (UCAP). A model that describes light-attenuation gradients and dose-dependent kinetics in UCAP-guided NIR photochemistry is developed. Notably, the established model for the UCAP concept provides sufficient vertical light penetration to form scale-predictable black materials and instructs 3D printing applications. The critical control parameters were evaluated, and it was shown that complex macroscale black objects can be processed within dozens of minutes. The modeling methodologies integrated with rich functional fillers will further extend the versatility of UCAP technology in device design and manufacturing.
Keywords: UCNP; black 3D object; melanin; near-infrared; photopolymerization.