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Additively manufactured (AM) three-dimensional (3D) mesostructures exhibit geometrically optimal mechanical, thermal, and optical properties that could drive future microrobotics, energy harvesting, and biosensing technologies at the micrometer to millimeter scale. We present a strategy for transforming AM mesostructures into 3D electronics by growing nanoscale conducting films on 3D-printed polymers. This highly generalizable method utilizes precision atomic layer deposition (ALD) of conducting metal oxides on ultrasmooth photopolymer lattices printed by high-resolution microstereolithography.

Control of 3D electronic transport is demonstrated by tuning conformal growth of ultrathin amorphous and crystalline conducting metal oxides. To understand the scaling of 3D electrical properties, graph theory is applied to compute network resistance and precisely design the 3D mesostructures’ conductivity. Finally, 3D-enhanced multimodal sensing is demonstrated of chemical, thermal, and mechanical stimuli, geometrically boosting sensitivity by 1003 over 2D films and enabling a new class of low-power, 3D-printable sensors.

Currently, 3D mesoscale lattices require additive manufacturing methods such as stereolithography (SLA) and two-photon nanolithography, because micromachining methods are inherently limited in their ability to fabricate complex 3D geometries. Future advances in additive manufacturing could overcome this barrier to miniaturized, multifunctional systems if electronic functionality can be integrated in 3D mesostructures while leveraging their geometric advantages.

Read this white paper to learn how micro 3D printing technology is helping mesostructures transform into important work in science and technology.

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