3D Printing of Nanoporous Polymers
Introduction

3D Printing of Nanoporous Polymers

Scanning electron microscopy and confocal fluorescence microscopy are used to develop a new method to 3D-print objects with inherent nanoporosity.

3D printing offers great flexibility in the creation of precisely engineered objects with highly complex geometries. This is rapidly opening up possibilities in many fields, including aerospace, robotics, construction and medicine.

Prof. Pavel Levkin heads a surface science research group at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany. In a recent publication, his team utilizes both scanning electron microscopy and confocal fluorescence microscopy to develop a new method for 3D printing nanoporous objects. 

Prof. Pavel Levkin with postdoctoral researcher Dr. Zheqin Dong (seated), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

We are fascinated by the ability of 3D printing to create precisely controlled micro/nano structures. We design and develop novel inks that can lead to 3D-printed objects with multifunctional and intelligent properties, making them useful for a variety of applications.

Prof. Pavel Levkin

with postdoctoral researcher Dr. Zheqin Dong (seated), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

3D printing of a polymer object with complex macroscopic 3D geometry and defined nanoporous structure analyzed using scanning electron microscopy.
3D printing of a polymer object with complex macroscopic 3D geometry and defined nanoporous structure analyzed using scanning electron microscopy.

3D printing of a polymer object with complex macroscopic 3D geometry and defined nanoporous structure analyzed using scanning electron microscopy.

3D printing of a polymer object with complex macroscopic 3D geometry and defined nanoporous structure analyzed using scanning electron microscopy.

3D Printed Polymer Objects with Inherent Nanoporosity

In Z. Dong et al., they present a new method to 3D print polymer objects with inherent nanoporosity. Nanoporous structures significantly improve cell adhesion and biocompatibility of the 3D-printed scaffolds. This is important for 3D-printed objects intended for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. In the end application, the 3D-printed objects will be used as cell culture scaffolds on which new tissue can be grown to replace damaged tissue.

Sub-Micrometer Pore Size

Analyzed using Scanning Electron Microscopy

3D Printed Scaffolds with Different Sub-Micrometer Pore Size
3D Printed Scaffolds with Different Sub-Micrometer Pore Size

3D Printed Scaffolds with Different Sub-Micrometer Pore Size

3D printed objects were created with different sub-micrometer pore size. The top row shows the macroscopic geometry. The bottom row shoes the intenral porous structure as analyzed by scanning electron microscopy.

Cell Culture Biocompatibility

Analyzed using Confocal Microscopy

Nanoporosity Improvides Cell Culture Biocompatibility
Nanoporosity Improvides Cell Culture Biocompatibility

a) Schematic representation of the scaffold´s geometry. b) 3D confocal microscopy images of cells cultured on the nanoporous scaffold and the c) non-porous scaffold. d) Coverage of live cells (Calcein-positive) calculated from the 3D confocal images within a volume of 3 × 3 × 0.3 millimeters cubed.

a) Schematic representation of the scaffold´s geometry. b) 3D confocal microscopy images of cells cultured on the nanoporous scaffold and the c) non-porous scaffold. d) Coverage of live cells (Calcein-positive) calculated from the 3D confocal images within a volume of 3 × 3 × 0.3 millimeters cubed.

Nanoporosity Improvides Cell Culture Biocompatibility

3D-printed scaffolds with inherent nanoporosity improve biocompatibility for cell culture over non-porous scaffolds. Cell growth was measured using confocal microscopy.

This research established a new method to 3D-print objects with inherent nanoporosity. In the future, we will continue to develop new functional building blocks to afford the 3D-printed nanoporous objects with novel and intelligent functionalities (e.g., responsive, adsorptive, catalytic, anti-fouling), making them valuable for many more applications ranging from water purification, carbon dioxide conversion to medical devices.

Prof. Pavel Levkin

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany


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