Printed examples with very high resolutions were on display when SPIE visited the lab late last year. The team has printed freestanding structures, as small as several micrometers wide, as well as stacked layers that are transferred concurrently to a substrate. Although the process is serial in nature, it can be combined with a spatial light modulator to operate in a parallel mode to print at the much higher speeds required in a production environment.
The team is working predominately on mastering the technique and developing the materials that will be used for future devices. But as Dr. Piqué explains, they are also working on pushing the limits of the field as well.
"We're pursuing different applications, for example printing different types of materials that can be co-located and jointly processed and this has been challenging. The processing conditions to deposit a metal may be different than the processing conditions for a polymer or a ceramic. It's an area that we are investigating to make more advanced structures. For example, if you can combine an insulator material with a conducting material, then you can start making other types of devices beyond interconnects."