Researchers use inket 3D printing to create gold 3D images

In an effort to advance biomedical sensors, material scientists from the University of Seville, Spain, and the University of Nottingham have created a 3D printed image using nanoparticles of stabilized gold.

As stated by the research published in Naturegold nanoparticles themselves are not printable but provide biocompatible properties in fields such as diagnostics. For example, electrochemical systems embedded with gold nanoparticles have been used for the recognition of tumor cells and cancer biomarkers.

Thus, various polymers with comb structures were prepared from arabinose, a natural sugar, to generate tiny gold nanoparticles with extremely high stability. The inks were then tested for printability.

“The University of Seville logo was printed by employing those inks, and the presence of gold was confirmed. This approach has the potential to open new routes and applications for fabrication of enhanced biomedical nanometallic-sensors.”

The 3D printed logo created using nanoparticles and inkjetting. Image via the University of Seville.
A close-up of the 3D printed logo created using nanoparticles and ink-jetting. Image via the University of Seville.

Novel metallic materials

As well as gold’s biocompatibility, this material’s conductivity has been leveraged for many multifunctional devices. Furthermore, the researchers have recognized a social concern on the usage, disposal, and accumulation of plastic materials. Therefore, in their investigation to create novel 3D printable inks for biomedical nano metallic-sensors, sugar-based biodegradable polyurethane polymers were utilized.

It is stated these polymers exhibit “outstanding properties as polymer-matrix for gold nanoparticles composites.” The study continues, “Currently, the best approach to inkjet print metals is its application as nanoparticles.”

“However, the use of inks for inkjet printing based exclusively on metallic nanoparticles has shown poor commercial results due to the low stability of the ink. These materials could reach exceptional stabilization levels, and demonstrated potential as novel robust inks for Inkjet based printing.”

(a, b, c,) polymer-free nanoparticles, (d) The former showing spherical, non-aggregated nanoparticles and the latter showing aggregate morphology and multi-twinned particle formation. Scale bar corresponds to 50 nm in all cases. (e) polymer structures found upon deposition of the synthesis onto the TEM grids. Image via the university of Seville.
(a, b, c,) polymer-free nanoparticles, (d) The former showing spherical, non-aggregated nanoparticles and the latter showing aggregate morphology and multi-twinned particle formation. Scale bar corresponds to 50 nm in all cases. (e) polymer structures found upon deposition of the synthesis onto the TEM grids. Image via the University of Seville.

A golden image

The University of Seville logo was produced using five layers of the developed gold nanoparticle ink formulation with a Dimatix printer. The logo image was printed at 35 µm droplet spacing using all 16 nozzles in the Dimatix 10pL printhead. An EPSON premium glossy photo paper was used as a substrate. The printed pattern was then further dried with a heat gun until the residual liquid was fully evaporated.

Upon experimentation, it was deduced that the comb-like copolyurethanes acted as proven gold nanoparticle stabilizers. This means that it can be used as inks for inkjet printing. The research team intends to conduct more experiments using 3D printing, to further validate the use of such inks for biosensors.

Design of highly stabilized nanocomposite inks based on biodegradable polymer-matrix and gold nanoparticles for Inkjet Printing,” is co-authored Belen Begines, Ana Alcudia, Raul Aguilera-Velazquez, Guillermo Martinez, Yinfeng He, Ricky Wildman, Maria-Jesus Sayagues, Aila Jimenez-Ruiz, and Rafael Prado-Gotor. 

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Featured image shows a depiction of golden particles. Image via Motion Array. 



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