The Chinese president Xi Jinping during his visit of the Hamlyn Centre at Imperial College London was very fascinated by tiny objects produced by means of a Nanoscribe 3D-printer. The researchers showed the President 3D objects narrower than a human hair. He and the Duke of York, who was also visiting the college, were presented with tiny gifts demonstrating the outstanding capabilities the high-tech 3D printers. While Xi Jingping could take home a section of the Chinese Great Wall on the micrometer scale, Prince Andrew got a panda leaping over a bamboo that was printed to the tip of a needle. “The height of the panda is approximately 50 micrometers, or half the width of a human hair”, explained Maura Power, a PhD student supervised by Professor Yang at Hamlyn Centre.
The underlying cutting-edge technique of this 3D printing process is called two-photon polymerization (2PP). It allows the researchers at Hamlyn Centre to develop previously impossible medical therapies and devices, e.g. swimming microrobots for targeted drug delivery as well as ultra-small instruments for microsurgery.