NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a substantial advancement in additive manufacturing technology. The method eliminates most material restrictions, enabling fabrication of sub-microscale three-dimensional structures composed of nearly any material that is compatible with chemical vapor deposition (CVD) including metallic and ceramic materials. Current technology for the production of microscale three-dimensional structures, such as two-photon lithography, is generally limited to the use of photosensitive polymeric materials.

The technology capitalizes on existing stereolithography techniques to fabricate a polymeric scaffold of the desired three-dimensional structure employing a photosensitive polymer material. After the scaffold is complete, nickel can be deposited onto the structure using a catalyst and a low-temperature CVD process, at which point the polymer structure can be dissolved away, leaving a nickel shell. Using the resulting nickel shell as yet another scaffold, the desired material can be deposited using the appropriate CVD process since the melting point of nickel is 1455 °C. If necessary, the nickel can then be preferentially etched away.

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. For more information, contact the Goddard Strategic Partnerships Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 301-286-5810. Follow this link here  for more information.


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This article first appeared in the April, 2020 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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