Manufacturing with Light 2: Photobioform II

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Sch of Mechanical and Manufacturing Eng


Selective formation of metallic nanoparticles in plastics has a wide range of uses for generating conductive tracks, creating antimicrobial surfaces and for the fabrication of sensors and actuators which has a broad spectrum of applications such as microsystems, printed electronics and wearable devices.

Photobioform II aims to develop bio-inspired, industrially relevant manufacturing processes that can selectively pattern metals onto non-conductive substrates using light-harvesting complexes to accelerate the reduction of metal ions embedded into these substrates. The key challenges addressed in this project cover the fields of material science and manufacturing.

The material science challenges include (1) the vast range of materials which can be processed using this method where each material requires different treatment techniques or operational parameters, (2) the need for a better understanding of the mechanisms responsible for the photosynthesis within the light harvesting complexes, (3) the determination of the optimal material formulation for this reduction processes and (4) the understanding of the interdependent factors (wavelength, intensity, etc) acting in this multi-dimensional design space to target the for optimum metallisation process.

The manufacturing challenges cover (1) the interplay between processes and manufacturing techniques (and equipment) to deliver these processes (2) the novel spray coating process using aerosol jetting and (3) the industrial need for high speed, high resolution and low cost photo-patterning techniques. Particular high impact applications of prosthetics and encoders will be used to demonstrate the manufacturing capabilities developed during this research.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/N018265/1 30/10/2015 31/03/2016 £347,680
EP/N018265/2 Transfer EP/N018265/1 01/04/2016 31/03/2019 £303,610
Description This grant transferred institution. Please see details of Grant EP/N018265/2 for a summary of Key findings.
Exploitation Route The approach to selectively metalise 3D printed polymer parts has application areas for further development in:
- electronics manufacture
- sensor systems
- antimicrobial coatings
- smart prosthetics
- a new manufacturing strategy for robotics systems, medical devices and wearable technology.
Sectors Electronics,Energy,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description This grant transferred institution. Please see details of Grant EP/N018265/2 for the Narrative Impact Summary.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Electronics,Energy,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Description Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The International Microelectronics and Packaging Society (IMAPS) Workshop on Additive Manufacturing (printing) for packaging was hosted by Dr. Robert Kay at Loughborough University on the 22nd October 2015. This workshop brought together a range of individuals primarily from industry in order to introduce them to the current developments and activities in 3D printing applied to the field of electronics. The workshop was split into a morning session which educated these new individuals into the field of Additive Manufacturing and then in the afternoon covered the latest developments in academia and industry around 3D printing for electronics manufacturing. The research findings from two EPSRC projects was also showcased at this event (EP/L017415/1 & EP/L022133/1). Besides the networking benefits from this event the investigators on this grant were able to establish new collaborations with industry on existing and future research activities. The event also raised the awareness of many of the research activities in this field currently being conducted by UK Universities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015