While electronic gadgets such as television and mobile phones seem to be getting bigger than ever, the internal components that make them work are in turn getting smaller. With memory cards shrinking constantly, the goal for the technology industry is likely to be creating electronic components that are tiny, allowing them to use the space for other things.
New research from the University of Nottingham has provided a way to fabricate advanced materials by using 3D printing. This new method of molecular 3D printing has been reported to be able to open the possibility of creating electronic components that have the potential of applications in quantum computing.
Led by Dr Victor Sans Sangorrin of the Faculty of Engineering along with Dr Graham Newton of the School of Chemistry, the team used photochromic molecules which can change colour when they are exposed to light and combined them with a custom-made polymer.
A Potential For Reusable Components?
By working with this, the team created a nano structured tungsten-containing polyoxometalate that was able to change colour from colourless to blue when it was illuminated. It would return to its colourless state when exposed to the oxygen in the air. Their research was published in the journal Advanced Materials and it was explained that the material can also store information reversibly.
This means that there is the potential to create components that could potentially be erased clean when necessary. It could be a huge breakthrough for many industries such as healthcare, electronics and even quantum computing.
As Dr Newton explained: “In theory, it would be possible to reversibly encode something quite complex like a QR code or a barcode, and then wipe the material clean, almost like cleaning a whiteboard with an eraser. While our devices currently operate using colour changes, this approach could be used to develop materials for energy storage and electronics.”
The study was supported by the Leverhulme Trust, a German Academic Exchange service and the University of Nottingham.