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Trinity researchers awarded €550K to develop innovative nano and micro devices

13 October 2020

Trinity researchers awarded €550K to develop innovative nano and micro devices for consumer electronics, car manufacture and healthcare.

Researchers at AMBER, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research and Trinity’s School of Chemistry have received 550k under the EU’s Horizon 2020 “Future and Emerging Technologies – Open” (FET Open) programme 5D NanoPrinting consortium. The project, entitled ‘Functional & Dynamic 3D Nano-MicroDevices by Direct Multi-Photon Lithography’ has been awarded a total budget of €3.58 million.

The project aims to develop innovative smart materials and novel fabrication methods for micro and nano devices. In the next four years, it will advance micro and nano printing technologies, allowing faster prototyping of devices and design of novel functional materials with tailorable properties for a range of applications from consumer electronics to healthcare.

Micro devices, or MicroMachines – also known as “MEMS” (Micro ElectroMechanical Systems) – refer to microscopic devices with moving parts which are capable of accomplishing a specific task. The current production of these micro devices presents challenges that the project will address, and attempt to overcome, such as the limitations in the materials and the fabrication methods. Together with the expensive development process that many devices need, these issues are impeding the full development of the technology, making them more expensive and slowing down the access to the market.

The 5DNanoPrinting approach will unlock the full potential of “MEMS” by creating these microdevices in less time, with lower costs and higher flexibility. The project will especially focus on direct laser writing, a 3D-printing technology that uses focused laser pulses to prepare complex structures with extremely high resolution. This new experimental approach of rapid prototyping makes the production process faster and it allows the customisation of the devices during the production phase. Moreover, when compared to the standard fabrication techniques, the 5DNanoPrinting methodology can lower the production costs of MEMS thanks to the possibility of producing small quantity lots on-demand. This is particularly appealing in the case of bio-medical devices or other components where personalisation is a key factor.

Prof. Larisa Florea, from AMBER and the School of Chemistry, Trinity College Dublin is one of the principal investigators in the project. She said “We are absolutely delighted to have received funding for this exciting project under the FET-OPEN. This is one of the most competitive programmes under H2020 and one of the few programmes dedicated to funding early stage research in science and technology. We believe that this project will advance the state-of-the-art in micro and nano printing technologies, to allow for faster prototyping of microdevices. My team will design new functional materials to enable the realisation of microdevices proposed in this project.”

Prof. Florea, who also received a prestigious ERC Starting Grant in 2018, has extensive experience in the field. “The interdisciplinarity of these collaborations”, she says, “enables breakthroughs which could never be envisaged by individual partners. It complements the ERC programme, to allow breakthrough technologies to be applied for greater societal benefit.”

Prof. Virgilio Mattoli, Center for MicroBioRobotics at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), Italy, leads the project. Together with IIT, the project’s consortium includes academic and industrial partners from both Italy and other European countries that will bring their expertise in chemistry, material science, physics and engineering including CNR – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy; Graz University of Technology, Austria; University of Groningen, Netherlands; and Trinity College of Dublin.

To learn more visit: https://www.5dnanoprinting.eu/

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