2021 Vol. 3, No. 4
Health monitoring of structures and people requires the integration of sensors and devices on various 3D curvilinear, hierarchically structured, and even dynamically changing surfaces. Therefore, it is highly desirable to explore conformal manufacturing techniques to fabricate and integrate soft deformable devices on complex 3D curvilinear surfaces. Although planar fabrication methods are not directly suitable to manufacture conformal devices on 3D curvilinear surfaces, they can be combined with stretchable structures and the use of transfer printing or assembly methods to enable the device integration on 3D surfaces. Combined with functional nanomaterials, various direct printing and writing methods have also been developed to fabricate conformal electronics on curved surfaces with intimate contact even over a large area. After a brief summary of the recent advancement of the recent conformal manufacturing techniques, we also discuss the challenges and potential opportunities for future development in this burgeoning field of conformal electronics on complex 3D surfaces.
Micro/nanostructured components play an important role in micro-optics and optical engineering, tribology and surface engineering, and biological and biomedical engineering, among other fields. Precision glass molding technology is the most efficient method of manufacturing micro/nanostructured glass components, the premise of which is meld manufacturing with complementary micro/nanostructures. Numerous mold manufacturing methods have been developed to fabricate extremely small and high-quality micro/nanostructures to satisfy the demands of functional micro/nanostructured glass components for various applications. Moreover, the service performance of the mold should also be carefully considered. This paper reviews a variety of technologies for manufacturing micro/nanostructured molds. The authors begin with an introduction of the extreme requirements of mold materials. The following section provides a detailed survey of the existing micro/nanostructured mold manufacturing techniques and their corresponding mold materials, including nonmechanical and mechanical methods. This paper concludes with a detailed discussion of the authors recent research on nickel-phosphorus (Ni-P) mold manufacturing and its service performance.
The GHz burst mode of femtosecond laser pulses can significantly improve ablation efficiency without deteriorating ablation quality. However, various parameters involved in GHz burst mode make it difficult to optimize the processing for practical implementation. In this Perspective, the author gives the history, current status, and future challenges and prospects of this new strategy to answer the question, ‘will GHz burst mode create a new path to femtosecond laser processing?’
As femtosecond (fs) laser machining advances from micro/nanoscale to macroscale, approaches capable of machining macroscale geometries that sustain micro/nanoscale precisions are in great demand. In this research, an fs laser sharp shaping approach was developed to address two key challenges in macroscale machining (i.e. defects on edges and tapered sidewalls). The evolution of edge sharpness (edge transition width) and sidewall tapers were systematically investigated through which the dilemma of simultaneously achieving sharp edges and vertical sidewalls were addressed. Through decreasing the angle of incidence (AOI) from 0° to -5°, the edge transition width could be reduced to below 10 μm but at the cost of increased sidewall tapers. Furthermore, by analyzing lateral and vertical ablation behaviors, a parameter-compensation strategy was developed by gradually decreasing the scanning diameters along depth and using optimal laser powers to produce non-tapered sidewalls. The fs laser ablation behaviors were precisely controlled and coordinated to optimize the parameter compensations in general manufacturing applications. The AOI control together with the parameter compensation provides a versatile solution to simultaneously achieve vertical sidewalls as well as sharp edges of entrances and exits for geometries of different shapes and dimensions. Both mm-scale diameters and depths were realized with dimensional precisions below 10 μm and surface roughness below 1 μm. This research establishes a novel strategy to finely control the fs laser machining process, enabling the fs laser applications in macroscale machining with micro/nanoscale precisions.
Large, 3D curved electronics are a trend of the microelectronic industry due to their unique ability to conformally coexist with complex surfaces while retaining the electronic functions of 2D planar integrated circuit technologies. However, these curved electronics present great challenges to the fabrication processes. Here, we propose a reconfigurable, mask-free, conformal fabrication strategy with a robot-like system, called robotized ‘transfer-and-jet’ printing, to assemble diverse electronic devices on complex surfaces. This novel method is a ground-breaking advance with the unique capability to integrate rigid chips, flexible electronics, and conformal circuits on complex surfaces. Critically, each process, including transfer printing, inkjet printing, and plasma treating, are mask-free, digitalized, and programmable. The robotization techniques, including measurement, surface reconstruction and localization, and path programming, break through the fundamental constraints of 2D planar microfabrication in the context of geometric shape and size. The transfer printing begins with the laser lift-off of rigid chips or flexible electronics from donor substrates, which are then transferred onto a curved surface via a dexterous robotic palm. Then the robotic electrohydrodynamic printing directly writes submicrometer structures on the curved surface. Their permutation and combination allow versatile conformal microfabrication. Finally, robotized hybrid printing is utilized to successfully fabricate a conformal heater and antenna on a spherical surface and a flexible smart sensing skin on a winged model, where the curved circuit, flexible capacitive and piezoelectric sensor arrays, and rigid digital–analog conversion chips are assembled. Robotized hybrid printing is an innovative printing technology, enabling additive, noncontact and digital microfabrication for 3D curved electronics.
Memristors have attracted tremendous interest in the fields of high-density memory and neuromorphic computing. However, despite the tremendous efforts that have been devoted over recent years, high operating voltage, poor stability, and large device variability remain key limitations for its practical application and can be partially attributed to the un-optimized interfaces between electrodes and the channel material. We demonstrate, for the first time, a van der Waals (vdW) memristor by physically sandwiching pre-fabricated metal electrodes on both sides of the two-dimensional channel material. The atomically flat bottom electrode ensures intimate contact between the channel and electrode (hence low operation voltage), and the vdW integration of the top electrode avoids the damage induced by aggressive fabrication processes (e.g. sputtering, lithography) directly applied to the channel material, improving device stability. Together, we demonstrate memristor arrays with a high integration density of 1010 cm-2, high stability, and the lowest set/reset voltage of 0.12 V/0.04 V, which is a record low value for all 2D-based memristors, as far as we know. Furthermore, detailed characterizations are conducted to confirm that the improved memristor behavior is the result of optimized metal/channel interfaces. Our study not only demonstrates robust and low voltage memristor, but also provides a general electrode integration approach for other memristors, such as oxide based memristors, that have previously been limited by non-ideal contact integration, high operation voltage and poor device stability.
Light field imaging technology can obtain three-dimensional (3D) information of a test surface in a single exposure. Traditional light field reconstruction algorithms not only take a long time to trace back to the original image, but also require the exact parameters of the light field system, such as the position and posture of a microlens array (MLA), which will cause errors in the reconstructed image if these parameters cannot be precisely obtained. This paper proposes a reconstruction algorithm for light field imaging based on the point spread function (PSF), which does not require prior knowledge of the system. The accurate PSF derivation process of a light field system is presented, and modeling and simulation were conducted to obtain the relationship between the spatial distribution characteristics and the PSF of the light field system. A morphology-based method is proposed to analyze the overlapping area of the subimages of light field images to identify the accurate spatial location of the MLA used in the system, which is thereafter used to accurately refocus light field imaging. A light field system is built to verify the algorithm’s effectiveness. Experimental results show that the measurement accuracy is increased over 41.0% compared with the traditional method by measuring a step standard. The accuracy of parameters is also improved through a microstructure measurement with a peak-to-valley value of 25.4% and root mean square value of 23.5% improvement. This further validates that the algorithm can effectively improve the refocusing efficiency and the accuracy of the light field imaging results with the superiority of refocusing light field imaging without prior knowledge of the system. The proposed method provides a new solution for fast and accurate 3D measurement based on a light field.
The service performance of the turbine blade root of an aero-engine depends on the microstructures in its superficial layer. This work investigated the surface deformation structures of turbine blade root of single crystal nickel-based superalloy produced under different creep feed grinding conditions. Gradient microstructures in the superficial layer were clarified and composed of a severely deformed layer (DFL) with nano-sized grains (48–67 nm) at the topmost surface, a DFL with submicron-sized grains (66–158 nm) and micron-sized laminated structures at the subsurface, and a dislocation accumulated layer extending to the bulk material. The formation of such gradient microstructures was found to be related to the graded variations in the plastic strain and strain rate induced in the creep feed grinding process, which were as high as 6.67 and 8.17×107 s-1, respectively. In the current study, the evolution of surface gradient microstructures was essentially a transition process from a coarse single crystal to nano-sized grains and, simultaneously, from one orientation of a single crystal to random orientations of polycrystals, during which the dislocation slips dominated the creep feed grinding induced microstructure deformation of single crystal nickel-based superalloy.