3D printing offers enormous flexibility in fabrication of polymer objects with complex geometries. However, it is not suitable for fabricating large polymer structures with geometrical features at the sub-micrometer scale. Porous structure at the sub-micrometer scale can render macroscopic objects with unique properties, including similarities with biological interfaces, permeability, superhydrophobicity and extremely large surface area, imperative inter alia for adsorption, separation, sensing or biomedical applications.
In my presentation, I will demonstrate a method combining advantages of 3D printing and polymerization-induced phase separation, which enables formation of 3D polymer structures with controllable inherent porosity at the sub-micrometer scale. 3D polymer structures of highly complex geometries and spatially controlled pore sizes from 10 nm to 1000 µm can be fabricated using this method. Produced hierarchical polymers combining nanoporosity with micrometer-sized pores demonstrate improved adsorption performance due to better pore accessibility and favore cell adhesion and growth for 3D cell culture.
The developed method extends the scope of applications of 3D printing to hierarchical inherently porous 3D objects as well as superhydrophobic 3D objects, making them available for a wide variety of applications.