My research focuses on the development of additive manufacturing techniques for the realization of microsensors, actuators, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Additive manufacturing is an emerging field of research where, as the name implies, material is selectively added to form the final structure. A popular form of additive manufacturing is 3D printing. The most common 3D printer is a fused deposition modeling (FDM) system that adds successive layers of molten plastic together to form a three dimensional structure. Another technique, selective laser melting (SLM) or direct metal laser sinter (DMLS) uses a laser to melt, or sinter, metal powder into 3D structures in a layer-wise fashion.

In my research, I presently focus on metal additive microfabrication, using two different approaches. The first relies on metal nanoparticle based inks, which allows for the direct writing of conductive metal structures at relatively low temperatures. This is an exciting technology as it will allow for sensors and circuits to be printed on low-cost materials such as plastic, paper, or fabric. However, in order to realize high quality devices, a better understanding of the nanomaterials and their resulting characteristics after processing is required to enable engineers to use the material to design advanced structures.

My second direction explores high resolution DMLS, sometimes referred to a Micro Laser Sintering (MLS), to realize 3D metal structures. To enable this technology, very fine metal powders (Mean diameter of 5 micrometers or less) are spread onto a substrate and selectively melted using laser energy. My efforts include sourcing and studying new metallic powders, process development, and the design of microsystems using this technology. To date, it has been employed for applications including biomedical implants and microwave waveguides.

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