Sound waves and holograms are being used by researchers to rapidly create small 3D structures

Sound waves and holograms are being used by researchers to rapidly create small 3D structures

Growing organs or tissues for medicinal purposes still seems like science fiction — and it is a very tough task. 3D-printing technology has showed considerable promise in the field of biofabrication, but the technique is excessively slow and sometimes causes tissue damage. German researchers believe they have found a solution: combining holograms and sound fields to swiftly construct matter in 3D.

Acoustic pressure is used to form silica gel microspheres and other materials into intricate 3D geometries. It’s not simple to pull that off. The researchers initially had to learn how to make intricate, layered holographic structures out of sound rather than light, which requires an enormous amount of processing power. “The digitalization of a whole 3D object into ultrasonic hologram fields is computationally quite hard,” one of the team’s researchers told FastCompany.

But, once the hologram is complete, it may be utilised to form diverse materials. The forms created thus far aren’t particularly enormous — less than an inch at their largest — but they are rather complicated. Even more astonishing is the speed with which the fabrication takes place: One of the videos included with the published report depicts a transparent cube filled with a hazy liquid consisting of silica gel microspheres. The cloud condenses into the shape of a helix moments later.

Previous trials employed mouse myoblast cells to build forms, and the study’s chief author, Kai Melde, told FastCompany that the method might be used for bioprinting in the future. “Ultrasound is non-toxic to the cells,” Melde added. “And the distant assembly helps keep everything clean and the cells happy.” The research also looks into the possibility of applying the technology for targeted medicine delivery and quick prototyping. For the time being, however, the research is an intriguing proof of concept for rapid-one-step assembly of 3D objects, as well as a prospective, far speedier alternative to 3D printing in the future.

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