Worlds first rapid 3D nanoscale printer for nano tech research

A new AU$30 million research facility at RMIT University in Melbourne will bring to Australia the world’s first rapid 3D nanoscale printer.

The new MicroNano Research Facility (MNRF) was launched last week by Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Gardner AO. Professor Gardner said the opening of the state-of-the-art laboratories and clean rooms was the start of an exciting new chapter in cross-disciplinary nano research.

“At the heart of the MicroNano Research Facility’s mission is bringing together disparate disciplines to enable internationally-leading research activity,” she said. “RMIT has long been a pioneer in this field, opening Australia’s first academic clean rooms at the Microelectronics and Materials Technology Centre in 1983.

“Over three decades later, this investment in the world-class MNRF will enable RMIT’s leading researchers to continue to break new ground and transform the future.”

Among the equipment available to researchers in the 1200 square metre facility will be the world’s first rapid 3D nanoscale printer, capable of producing thousands of structures – each a fraction of the width of a human hair – in seconds, RMIT said.

The MNRF also offers researchers access to more than 50 cutting-edge tools, including focused ion beam lithography with helium, neon, and gallium ion beams to enable imaging and machining objects to 0.5 nm resolution – about 5 to 10 atoms.

Director of the MNRF, Professor James Friend, said 10 research teams would work at the new facility on a broad range of projects, including building miniaturised motors to retrieve blood clots from deep within the brain, which will enable surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures on people affected by strokes or aneurysms. The team will also improve drug delivery through the lungs using new techniques that can atomise large biomolecules – including drugs, DNA, antibodies and even cells – into tiny droplets to avoid the damage of conventional nebulisation, RMIT said.

“This facility is all about ensuring researchers have the freedom to imagine and safely realise the impossible at tiny scales and beyond,” said Friend.

“Having access to purpose-designed laboratories and leading-edge equipment opens tremendous opportunities for RMIT and for those we collaborate with, enabling us to advance the development of truly smart technology solutions to some of our most complex problems,” he said.