RAFT applied to 3D printing: Master thesis defended at RaffaLab
Our RaffaLab Master student in Chemical Engineering, Tjon Chen, has succesfully defended this morning his thesis with the title: "The development of an on-demand post-print modifiable photoresist for 2-photon polymerization lithography through PET-RAFT polymerization". In the last 8 months, with the help of our PhD student Frank den Hoed, and including an abroad period in the laboratories of our research partner at IIT (and my good personal friend) Dr Virgilio Mattoli, he tested and compared various ways to incorporate a RAFT agent in a photoresist, in order to achieve post-print polymerization, with the ultimate goal of modifying the surface properties of printed objects, in a sort of 4D printing process.
Taking inspiration from some papers describing RAFT polymerization (one of my area of expertise) applied to 3D printing, such as this and this, I had the idea of applying it to a different 3D printing technique, based on 2 photon lithography, as a project to include in our work for the 5D Nanoprinting European network, coordinated by Virgilio, and in which we are involved.
Things did not turn out smooth as initially expected, but with perseverance and an impressive amount of experiments, Tjon delivered a nice work, that we will hopefully turn into a good publication soon.
A few months into the thesis, an interesting paper with basically the very same concept (a bit unfortunately for us...) was published in Advanced Functional Materials, showing that the idea is sound.
Picture: Tjon, during his thesis presentation at the Univeristy of Groningen