The requirements for future AM systems to produce complex multi-material and multi-functional components and products are reliant on two aspects, increased material capability and increased resolution. NANOS specifically targets these two aspects through the research and development of nano-resolution manufacturing systems, principally 2-photon lithography, that are capable of producing structures in the order of 100nm in materials that have relevance to the sensing applications. In addition, NANOS intends to utilise developments in optical tweezer technology to functionalise the structures made using 2-photon lithography.
Whilst resolution in 2-photon lithography systems is on the nano-scale there are a number of research challenges that limit the technology’s application. These are fundamentally around the speed of deposition and materials capability. Speed of deposition is an issue as the structures being deposited are only in the order of 100nm and as such, for a component that needs to be millimetres in size, this can take a significant amount of time to manufacture. However, there are a number of researchers looking at this problem. For NANOS, the main focus will be to enable production of nanoscale structures in new materials that promote the development of new sensor systems.
Since the project’s inception a number of strategic changes have been made in order to ensure the relevance of the project to industrial need. Additional reconfiguration has also occurred due to the enhanced technical capability that is now available to the project team since the EPSRC Centre’s move to The University of Nottingham. These changes in effect allow the project to focus on the manufacturing system and materials development, whilst utilising specific expertise in optical tweezer technology based in The University of Nottingham’s School of Pharmacy.