Optofluidic three-dimensional printing enables advancements and innovation in optical fibers and biomedical devices. This 3D printing approach uses axial plane optical microscopy (APOM) technology.

In this approach, axial light patterns are projected in the microfluidic resist flows by reversely utilizing the unique optical path of APOM. By changing the light pattern and maintaining constant photoresist flows, the projected ultraviolet light pattern becomes a cross-section of photo-polymerized 3D structures. The result is a higher-resolution, higher-throughput technology than currently available.

Unlike traditional optical lithography-based 3D printing approaches, such as sterolithography (SL) and two-photon lithography (2PL), the optofluidic 3D printing technology allows high throughput with high resolution, and eliminates batch-sized processes that limit product size. Other optofluidic lithography approaches are free from batch-sized processes, but production is limited to 2D shapes, and channel wall materials are extremely limited.

Applications include structured optical fibers, biomedical devices, optoelectronics, and fiber photonics.

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This article first appeared in the November, 2017 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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