University of Cambridge > > Engineering - Mechanics and Materials Seminar Series > Inflight printing of micro/nano fibres: from harvesting acoustic energy to detecting cell movement

Inflight printing of micro/nano fibres: from harvesting acoustic energy to detecting cell movement

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Micro/nano fibres usually have high aspect ratio, low bending stiffness and high transparency at an individual string level; these unique physical properties intrinsically endow micro/nano fibre textiles with favourable performances at a macroscale level, such as flexibility, permeability and transparency. The idea to synthesis micro/nano fibres with electronic-functional materials and efficiently assemble them into fibre-based devices and architectures has opened up new possibilities ranging from transparent textile-based sensors to biointerfacing electronics. However, current fibre fabrication approaches do not readily allow efficient electronic-functional micro/nano fibre printing leading to fibre-based device integration. Herein, I present two original micro/nano fibre printing techniques, which are especially developed to efficiently print substrate-free electronic-functional fibres with various fibre designs and applications. First, the inflight fibre printing, which integrates conducting fibre production and fibre-to-circuit connection in a single step, is developed to produce metallic (silver) or organic (PEDOT:PSS) fibres with 1-3 μm diameter. Using PEDOT :PSS fibres as a cell-interfaced impedimetric sensor and a moisture sensor, I demonstrate that even a single fibre component can achieve complex functions or outperform conventional film-based devices. The capability to design suspended fibres and networks of homo-, hetero- cross-junctions, paves the way to applications including flow-permissive devices, and 3D optoelectronic and sensor architectures. Second, dynamic near‐field electrospinning is developed to fabricate in-situ poled piezoelectric nanofiber mesh, with high visible light transparency (> 97%) and air permissiveness. Such suspended nanofibre mesh harnesses the physical merits of spider web in its high acoustic sensing ability and broad active bandwidth. Combined with piezoelectric polymers, such spider-web inspired acoustic sensor has a broad sensitivity bandwidth covering 200–5000 Hz at hearing‐safe sound pressure levels. Overall, I demonstrate the versatility and scalability of fibre printing methods that could pave way for the next-generation fibre-based devices.

This talk is part of the Engineering - Mechanics and Materials Seminar Series series.

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