Posted in | Nanoanalysis

Nanotechnology and 3-D Printing Combined

ORNL research using in situ microscopy with incredible potential.

A significant discovery was announced by Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) featuring results enabled by Protochips in situ products.

In a world where 3-D printing and nanotechnology are becoming commonplace, Dr. Raymond Unocic of ORNL has discovered a way to combine them with significant results.

Dr. Unocic and colleagues from ORNL outlined a technique and preliminary results for a completely new type of material printing process.

Using an aberration-corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (STEM), fitted with a Protochips’ Poseidon Select liquid cell, they were able to turn the electron beam into a sub angstrom, palladium-writing nanoparticle generator.

They achieved this by filling the liquid cell with an H2PdCl4 solution which forms Pd nanoparticles when reduced under the electron beam – a process called “radiolysis”. Dr. Unocic was able to draw shapes, letters, and even entire words into the liquid cell.

This is significant as the electron beam is smaller than a single atom and this technique could allow scientists to 3-D print objects on an unprecedented tiny scale.

This research outlines the printing of a single layer of Pd nanoparticles, however Dr. Unocic is working on making even more complex objects. He plans to do this by using different liquids to deposit different metals, enabled by the interchangeable system within Poseidon.

Once automated, this process of layering different materials together with atomic precision could allow for a more scalable 3-D printing technique on a truly nanoscale. Scientists already working on similar applications in drug delivery, artificial muscles and nanolenses may also benefit from this method.

Ben Jacobs, Protochips product manager

About Protochips

Protochips is the leader in developing innovative in situ electron microscopy products. The revolutionary systems include Poseidon Select for liquid, Fusion for heating and electrical, and Atmosphere for pressurized gas and heating. Protochips' broad range of E-chip consumables and the easy-to-use Clarity Software Suite fundamentally change the way in situ microscopy is performed. Located in the Research Triangle Park region of North Carolina, Protochips has over 250 systems deployed in 24 countries. For additional information, visit

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