This Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award supports the acquisition of a photonic 3D printer for the rapid fabrication of nano- to macro-scale parts and maskless lithography. As the only system of its kind in the state, it will enable users at Purdue and throughout the region to pursue new fundamental research directions by eliminating fabrication bottlenecks and design limitations. The team will integrate the instrumentation into ongoing education and outreach activities and will leverage the College of Engineering?s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow program and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program for undergraduate research using the system. The PIs will work with middle and high school students -- in collaboration with Deaf Kids CODE--enabling students to design and 3D print their own microrobots and to write code to control them -- exposing the students to the worlds of microtechnology, controls, and microrobotics.
The instrumentation will enable interdisciplinary fundamental research in a range of fields including microrobotics, materials, sensors, devices, metamaterials, and programmable structures. The potentially transformative fundamental research can advance understanding of nanoscale physics during phase change from liquid to gas by enabling fabrication of nanopores for nanoscale evaporation. The fundamental research on materials and metamaterials can lead to novel phase transforming materials that can be used to design and fabricate energy absorption systems at the nano-scale. The research on microrobotics may advance fundamental knowledge on the navigation and control of micro-robots through vision-based micro-force sensing systems and how such robots might be scaled-down for biomedical applications.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.