3D Printing Functional Materials & Devices

The McAlpine Research Group focuses on 3D printing functional materials & devices.

The development of methods for interfacing high performance functional devices with biology could impact regenerative medicine, smart prosthetics, and human-machine interfaces. Indeed, the ability to three-dimensionally interweave biological and functional materials could enable the creation of devices possessing unique geometries, properties, and functionalities.

Yet, most high quality functional materials are two dimensional, hard and brittle, and require high crystallization temperatures for maximal performance. These properties render the corresponding devices incompatible with biology, which is three-dimensional, soft, stretchable, and temperature sensitive.

We overcome these dichotomies by: 1) using 3D printing and scanning for customized, interwoven, anatomically accurate device architectures; 2) employing nanotechnology as an enabling route for overcoming mechanical discrepancies while retaining high performance; and 3) 3D printing a range of soft and nanoscale materials to enable the integration of a diverse palette of high quality functional nanomaterials with biology.

​3D printing is a multi-scale platform, allowing for the incorporation of functional nanoscale inks, the printing of microscale features, and ultimately the creation of macroscale devices. This three-dimensional blending of functional materials and ‘living’ platforms may enable next-generation 3D printed devices.