The concept of 3D printing is grown once more, this time into the concept of quantum materials, thanks to the efforts of a team of academics at the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham.

Researchers have demonstrated that it’s possible to use 3D printing to manipulate materials on the level of individual molecules in a way that was once thought to be unimaginable. They have developed a material that changes from colourless to blue when illuminated, returning to colourless when exposed to oxygen in the air. It was then combined with a custom-made thermoplastic polymer to be 3D printed as a composite material. This new substance can reversibly store information like a QR code or a barcode.

The researchers hope that their new material will lead to 3D printers being able to create electronic parts for everyday devices, with eventual applications in quantum computing.

3D printing can be used to make such small objects by combining a process that allows for the vertical stacking of layers of individual atoms with a process can move and place individual atoms in a two-dimensional plane. Neither process is able to build a three-dimensional structure by itself.

3D printing is evolving on a daily basis and has become a concept that can lead to the making of objects that can change shape and even move, in experiments that seem like something out of science fiction.


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