Jun 9, 2016 | By Tess

A team of scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have created what has been recognized as the world’s smallest man-made lattice structure with the help of 3D printing technologies. The innovative structure, which possesses single struts shorter than 1 µm and diameters as tiny as 200 nm, marks a significant step forwards in the field of metamaterials.

In creating the smallest lattice structure, the scientists first 3D printed the base structure using Nanoscribe’s Photonic Professional, a laser lithography system already capable of precisely additively manufacturing micro-objects. From there the 3D printed polymeric microlattices underwent a process of pyrolysis where the structure was subjected to extremely high heats (around 900 degrees Celcius/1,650 degrees Fahrenheit) in a vacuum. It was during this process that the 3D printed lattices shrank by an impressive 80%, marking a new world record for smallest man-made lattice structure.

The pyrolysis process not only shrank the lattice, however, as it also effectively transformed the polymeric structures into glassy carbon, a high strength, low density material, outmatched only by diamond for its strength-to-density ratio. After pyrolysis, the scientists found that the 3D printed lattices were ultra-strong, with impressive strengths of up to 1GPa with a density significantly lower than the density of water, which is 1,000kg/m³.

As mentioned, the creation of glassy carbon nanolattices marks a big step forward within the field of designing and manufacturing mechanical metamaterials (non-organic materials with properties not found in nature). Additionally, the process of pyrolysis, which resulted in the creation of smaller, stronger structures, could push forward the creation of new materials with stronger, lighter, and even more durable properties. “Pushing full 3D patterning further into the nanoscale by pyrolysis promises benefits from many physical phenomena with great potential for metamaterials in general,” explained Jens Bauer from the University of California, Irvine.

Ultimately, the scientists have used laser lithography 3D printing technology and pyrolysis to create glassy carbon nanolattices that could be used in electrodes, filters, or optical components.

The full study “Approaching theoretical strength in glassy carbon nanolattices” was published February 2016 in Nature Materials.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


The unknown21 wrote at 6/4/2018 1:19:35 AM:

how high is it? What's the length and weight?

KM wrote at 12/5/2016 9:47:29 PM:

If you look more carefully at the photomicrograph, it seems like the size bar agrees with the original statement, shrinkage OF 80% Nature materials is not a journal that is careless with details

3D wrote at 11/19/2016 11:15:22 AM:

It was obviously shrunk _to_ 80% of its original extensions, not _by_ 80%.

SeeingIsBelieving wrote at 6/9/2016 4:01:09 PM:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now six years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive