Exploiting mechanics principles similar to those found in children’s ‘pop-up’ books, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a unique process for geometrically transforming two dimensional (2D) micro/nanostructures into extended 3D layouts.

Complex, 3D micro/nanostructures are ubiquitous in biology, where they provide essential functions in even the most basic forms of life. Similar design strategies have great potential for use in a wide variety of man-made systems, from biomedical devices to microelectromechanical components, photonics and optoelectronics, metamaterials, electronics, and energy storage.

“Conventional 3D printing technologies are fantastic, but none offers the ability to build microstructures that embed high performance semiconductors, such as silicon,” explained John Rogers, a Swanlund Chair and professor of materials science and engineering at Illinois. “We have presented a remarkably simple route to 3D that starts with planar precursor structures formed in nearly any type of material, including the most advanced ones used in photonics and electronics.

A stretched, soft substrate imparts forces at precisely defined locations across such a structure to initiate controlled buckling processes that induce rapid, large-area extension into the third dimension. The result transforms the planar materials into well-defined, 3D frameworks with broad geometric diversity.


Also: Learn about Ohmic Contact to N- and P-Type Silicon Carbide.