A new process being developed by Arizona State University researchers enables color printing on a microscale with a simple, inexpensive additive manufacturing process.

Chao Wang, an assistant professor of electrical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU, has invented a solution-based additive manufacturing process to “paint with light” on glass and plastics. Wang’s novel printing method uses light to control the photochemical reduction of metal microstructures on an engineered optical material.

The technique opens new avenues for color printing on the microscale, including printing on surfaces such as wearable optical devices and flexible displays. It also allows for the creation of colored, high-resolution pictures without applying complex and expensive semiconductor-processing techniques.

A peer-reviewed manuscript on this work, “Structural color printing via polymer-assisted photochemical deposition,” authored by Wang, Yu Yao, a Fulton Schools associate professor of electrical engineering, and students working in their labs, was recently published in the research journal Light: Science & Applications.

Read more on Full Circle