Jun 2, 2016 | By Tess

With 3D design and printing technologies, manufacturers from many fields have been able to more precisely than ever recreate organic and nature-inspired structures for the manufacturing of advanced materials. Being able to capitalize on isotropic properties found in nature, such as wood, or other plant fibers, has opened many doors and has potential applications in industries like fashion, architecture, and aerospace. Most recently, researchers have been inspired by the wings of the Callophrys Rubi butterfly, better known as the Green Hairstreak.

The butterfly’s wings, which possess a distinct iridescent quality and an intricately unique structure, are helping a team of researchers from Australia’s Swinburne Centre for Micro-Photonics to create more brilliant and light responsive computer screens. In developing the new and more advanced screens, the team of researchers, led by Dr. Zongsong Gan, are recreating the butterfly wing’s structure on a minuscule scale with the help of high-precision lithography 3D printing processes.

The Callophrys Rubi’s wings, which have dull brown forewings are distinctive because of their bright green and luminescent undersides, which are the result of a complex pattern of intertwined and curved surfaces which diffract light in unique ways. The wing structure, known as the gyroid structure, is what the researchers are trying to recreate in order to capitalize on its light interacting properties.

As Dr. Zongsong Gan explains, the artificially made gyroid structures, which are being additively manufactured using a dual beam light system, could be used to make screens with highly responsive properties when it comes to light. In other words, screens made from the microscopic gyroid structures could react to light at ultra-fast speeds, making them perfect for high-speed switches.

In addition to the light responsiveness, materials made with the artificial gyroid structure could benefit from a higher resolution, as well as a better mechanical strength. As Dr. Zongson Gan explains, “These new gyroid structures could help make more compact light based electronics because, thanks to their smaller size, larger numbers of devices can be integrated onto a single chip. However, for three-dimensional devices, smaller and more compact also means there is a higher risk of structure collapse because of weaker mechanical strength. Our fabrication technique allows us to make stronger architectures to overcome this problem.”

The gyroid structure research is being funded by the Australian Research Council Centre for Ultrahigh-bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems, the Laureate Fellowship scheme, and the Science and Industry Endowment Fund under the John Stocker Postdoctoral Fellowship. Swinburne’s Centre for Micro-Photonics, where the research is being conducted, is one of the leading centers for biophotonic and nanophotonic research.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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