Ultra-Thin Optical Fibers Novel Approach to Create 3D Microstructures

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In a new development, scientists have revealed that an optical fiber as thin as a human hair can be utilized to fabricate microscopic structures employing laser-based 3D printing. It is speculated the novel approach along with an endoscope may one day be used to directly fabricate minute biocompatible structures in tissues inside the body. This would allow new ways for repair of damaged tissue.

Further development in the technique could allow endoscopic microfabrication instruments that could be useful during surgery. These instruments could be used for printing micro – or nano scale 3D structures to facilitate the growth and adhesion of cells to create engineered tissue for restoring damaged tissues.

New Approach to Pave Way for Endoscopic Printing in Humans

As revealed in Optics Express- the journal of Optical Society, researchers divulge that the new approach can fabricate microstructures with a printing resolution of 1.0-micron side-to-side and 21.5-micron depth-wise. While the microstructures were fabricated on a microscope slide, the technique could be employed to study the interaction of cells with various microstructures in animal studies, which would further pave the way to carry out endoscopic printing in people.

The creation of microstructures involved dipping the end of optical fiber in a liquid called photopolymer. The liquid solidifies or cures on illuminating the specific color of light. The study involved using optical fiber to deliver and for point-to-point digital focus of laser light into the liquid to create a three-dimensional microstructure.

The new technique has additional benefits as well. The novel ultra-compact microfabrication instrument could be a useful feature for today’s commercial 3D printers for a range of functions from rapid prototyping to customized personal devices.

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