Penn State University researchers have used a beam deflector to increase the speed of 2D and 3D printing by up to 1000 times.

The team increased scanning speed from the microsecond range to the nanosecond regime. The improvements will support new high-speed imaging, broadband optical communications, and ultra-fast laser display and printing applications.

The researchers employed a space-charge-controlled KTN beam deflector — a kind of crystal made of potassium tantalate and potassium niobate — with a large electro-optic effect.

“Basically, when the crystal materials are applied to an electric field, they generate uniform reflecting distributions, that can deflect an incoming light beam,” said Shizhuo Yin, professor of electrical engineering in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “We conducted a systematic study on indications of speed and found out the phase transition of the electric field is one of the limiting factors.

To overcome the issue, Yin and his team of researchers eliminated the electric field-induced phase transition in a nanodisordered KTN crystal by making it work at a higher temperature. The elimination improved scanning speeds.

Yin said the technique will be especially valuable for 3D printing applications and medical needs. Optometrist who use light waves to take cross-section pictures of a person’s retina, for example, would be able to have the 3D image of their patients’ retinas as they are performing the surgery.


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