Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Charge-programmed three-dimensional printing for multi-material electronic devices

Abstract

Three-dimensional (3D) printing can create complex geometries that could be of use in the development of electronics. However, the approach is mainly limited to non-functional structural materials, and the 3D printing of electronic devices typically requires multiple process stages of embedding, spraying and writing. Here, we report a 3D printing approach that can volumetrically deposit multiple functional materials within arbitrary 3D layouts to create electronic devices in a single step. Our approach prints 3D structures with a programmable mosaic of distinct surface charge regions, creating a platform to deposit functional materials into complex architectures based on localized electrostatic attraction. The technique allows selective volumetric depositions of single metals and also diverse active material combinations, including ceramic, semiconducting, magnetic and colloidal materials, into site-specific 3D topologies. To illustrate the capabilities of our approach, we use it to fabricate devices with 3D electronic interfaces that can be used for tactile sensing, internal wave mapping and shape self-sensing.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Programmable deposition in three dimensions.
Fig. 2: Multi-material deposition.
Fig. 3: Tactile mapping by selective electrode pixels.
Fig. 4: 3D strain sensor obtained by means of selective electrode deposition.
Fig. 5: 3D shape sensor obtained by means of selective electrode deposition.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

References

  1. 1.

    Madou, M. J. Fundamentals of Microfabrication: The Science of Miniaturization 2nd edn (CRC Press, 2002).

  2. 2.

    Liu, N. et al. Three-dimensional photonic metamaterials at optical frequencies. Nat. Mater. 7, 31–37 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Radke, A., Gissibl, T., Klotzbücher, T., Braun, P. V. & Giessen, H. Three-dimensional bichiral plasmonic crystals fabricated by direct laser writing and electroless silver plating. Adv. Mater. 23, 3018–3021 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Macdonald, E. et al. 3D printing for the rapid prototyping of structural electronics. IEEE Access 2, 234–242 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Yan, Z. et al. Mechanical assembly of complex, 3D mesostructures from releasable multilayers of advanced materials. Sci. Adv. 2, e1601014 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Xu, S. et al. Assembly of micro/nanomaterials into complex, three-dimensional architectures by compressive buckling. Science 347, 154–159 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Sun, Y., Choi, W. M., Jiang, H., Huang, Y. Y. & Rogers, J. A. Controlled buckling of semiconductor nanoribbons for stretchable electronics. Nat. Nanotechnol. 1, 201–207 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Adams, J. J. et al. Conformal printing of electrically small antennas on three-dimensional surfaces. Adv. Mater. 23, 1335–1340 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Saleh, M. S., Hu, C. & Panat, R. Three-dimensional microarchitected materials and devices using nanoparticle assembly by pointwise spatial printing. Sci. Adv. 3, e1601986 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Kim, Y., Yuk, H., Zhao, R., Chester, S. A. & Zhao, X. Printing ferromagnetic domains for untethered fast-transforming soft materials. Nature 558, 274–279 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Cui, H. et al. Three-dimensional printing of piezoelectric materials with designed anisotropy and directional response. Nat. Mater. 18, 234–241 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Huang, Y. et al. Assembly and applications of 3D conformal electronics on curvilinear surfaces. Mater. Horiz. 6, 642–683 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    MacDonald, E. & Wicker, R. Multiprocess 3D printing for increasing component functionality. Science 353, aaf2093 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Wu, S.-Y., Yang, C., Hsu, W. & Lin, L. 3D-printed microelectronics for integrated circuitry and passive wireless sensors. Microsyst. Nanoeng. 1, 15013 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Lin, R., Li, Y., Mao, X., Zhou, W. & Liu, R. Hybrid 3D printing all-in-one heterogenous rigidity assemblies for soft electronics. Adv. Mater. Technol. 4, 1900614 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Suntivich, R., Shchepelina, O., Choi, I. & Tsukruk, V. V. Inkjet-assisted layer-by-layer printing of encapsulated arrays. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 4, 3102–3110 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Oran, D. et al. 3D nanofabrication by volumetric deposition and controlled shrinkage of patterned scaffolds. Science 362, 1281–1285 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Oh, Y.-J., Cho, S. M. & Chung, C.-H. An in situ ATR-FTIR study on palladium displacement reaction on hydrogen-terminated silicon surface. J. Electrochem. Soc. 152, C348–C355 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Abrantes, L. M. & Correia, J. P. On the mechanism of electroless Ni–P plating. J. Electrochem. Soc. 141, 2356–2360 (1994).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Matula, R. A. Electrical resistivity of copper, gold, palladium and silver. J. Phys. Chem. Ref. Data 8, 1147–1298 (1979).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Gao, Y. et al. 3D-printed coaxial fibers for integrated wearable sensor skin. Adv. Mater. Technol. 4, 1900504 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Ladd, C., So, J.-H., Muth, J. & Dickey, M. D. 3D printing of free standing liquid metal microstructures. Adv. Mater. 25, 5081–5085 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Seifert, T. et al. Additive manufacturing technologies compared: morphology of deposits of silver ink using inkjet and aerosol jet printing. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 54, 769–779 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Nakanishi, T., Masuda, Y. & Koumoto, K. Site-selective deposition of magnetite particulate thin films on patterned self-assembled monolayers. Chem. Mater. 16, 3484–3488 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Ichinose, I., Senzu, H. & Kunitake, T. A surface sol–gel process of TiO2 and other metal oxide films with molecular precision. Chem. Mater. 9, 1296–1298 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Saito, N. et al. Low-temperature fabrication of light-emitting zinc oxide micropatterns using self-assembled monolayers. Adv. Mater. 14, 418–421 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Tian, D. et al. A Pd-free activation method for electroless nickel deposition on copper. Surf. Coat. Technol. 228, 27–33 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Periodic Table and X-ray Energies (accessed 2018); https://www.bruker.com/fileadmin/user_upload/8-PDF-Docs/X-rayDiffraction_ElementalAnalysis/HH-XRF/Misc/Periodic_Table_and_X-ray_Energies.pdf

  29. 29.

    Jiang, L., Gao, L. & Sun, J. Production of aqueous colloidal dispersions of carbon nanotubes. J. Colloid Interface Sci. 260, 89–94 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Kim, D.-H. et al. Epidermal electronics. Science 333, 838–843 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Yeom, C. et al. Large-area compliant tactile sensors using printed carbon nanotube active-matrix backplanes. Adv. Mater. 27, 1561–1566 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Wang, X. et al. Recent progress in electronic skin. Adv. Sci. 2, 1500169 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Meerbeek, I. M. V., Sa, C. M. D. & Shepherd, R. F. Soft optoelectronic sensory foams with proprioception. Sci. Robot. 3, eaau2489 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Yao, D. et al. Achieving the upper bound of piezoelectric response in tunable, wearable 3D printed nanocomposites. Adv. Funct. Mater. 29, 1903866 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Dressick, W. J., Dulcey, C. S., Georger, J. H., Calabrese, G. S. & Calvert, J. M. Covalent binding of Pd catalysts to ligating self‐assembled monolayer films for selective electroless metal deposition. J. Electrochem. Soc. 141, 210–220 (1994).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Chen, D. & Zheng, X. Multi-material additive manufacturing of metamaterials with giant, tailorable negative Poisson’s ratios. Sci. Rep. 8, 9139 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Inman, D. J. & Singh, R. C. Engineering Vibration Vol. 3 (Prentice Hall, 1994).

Download references

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge NSF_CMMI 1727492, DARPA Young Faculty Award (D20AP00001, Program Manager, R. Rolcawich), Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) (FA9550-18-1-0299), and Office of Naval Research (N00014-19-1-2723:P00001) for financial support of this work. We would like to acknowledge the help of H.C. Liu for the antenna array collaboration.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

X.Z. and R.H. conceived and designed the research. R.H. formulated charged resin materials, performed depositions, synthesized the functionalized piezoelectric materials and took SEM and optical images. H.C. designed and fabricated samples, performed device testing, derived wave propagation equations and took SEM images. Z.X. fabricated the multi-material samples and assisted with testing. D.Y. derived elastic wave propagation within the piezoelectric materials. J.M. and J.B. designed antenna structures. All authors participated in drafting the manuscript, discussion and interpretation of the data.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Xiaoyu Zheng.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

A worldwide patent application related to this work has been filed (no. PCT/US2019/033385). The authors declare no other competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Note 1, Figs. 1–11 and Tables 1 and 2.

Supplementary Video 1

A circuit design is selectively plated on an arbitrary substrate topology.

Supplementary Video 2

Ni-P is programmably deposited in various areas of four pieces of the same unit-cell design, but differing electrostatic design.

Supplementary Video 3

Two complex dielectric ball-in-cage structures, which are the inverse of each other, are programmably plated.

Supplementary Video 4

Two piezoelectric lattices, one stiff, one flexible, both with embedded electrodes are deformed by a drop weight. The elastic wave at each layer is monitored by voltage changes to the electrodes allowing impact sensing and material property determination.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hensleigh, R., Cui, H., Xu, Z. et al. Charge-programmed three-dimensional printing for multi-material electronic devices. Nat Electron 3, 216–224 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41928-020-0391-2

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing