Researchers from A*STAR’s (The Agency for Science, Technology and Research) Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) in Singapore have developed an innovative method for creating sharp, full-spectrum colour images at 100,000dpi, using metal-laced nanometre-sized structures, without the need for inks or dyes. In comparison, current industrial inkjet and laserjet printers can only achieve up to 10,000dpi while research grade methods are able to dispense dyes for only single colour images.
The “breakthrough” by A*STAR is said to allow colouring to be treated “not as an inking matter but as a lithographic matter, which can potentially revolutionise the way images are printed and be further developed for use in high resolution reflective colour display’s as well as high density optical data storage”.
The inspiration for the research was derived from stained glass, which is traditionally made by mixing tiny fragments of metal into the glass. It was found that nanoparticles from these metal fragments scattered light passing through the glass to give stained glass its colours. Using a similar concept with the help of modern nanotechnology tools, the researchers in Singapore precisely patterned metal nanostructures, and designed the surface to reflect the light to achieve the colour images.
“The resolution of printed colour images very much depends on the size and spacing between individual ‘nanodots’ of colour”, explained Dr Karthik Kumar, one of the key researchers involved. “The closer the dots are together and because of their small size, the higher the resolution of the image. With the ability to accurately position these extremely small colour dots, we were able to demonstrate the highest theoretical print colour resolution of 100,000dpi.”
The researchers from IMRE are currently working with Exploit Technologies, A*STAR’s technology transfer arm, to engage potential collaborators and to explore licensing the technology.
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