Maskless localized electrochemical deposition (LECD) is a novel additive manufacturing process that forms a three-dimensional structure layer-by-layer at the atomic scale. The process is simple, convenient, and low-cost to operate. Neither strict vacuum nor an inert gas environment is required. The challenge for the existing LECD method is that the process is slow and lacks precision. LLNL researchers have been able to develop a novel way to increase speed and accuracy.
LLNL’s approach is to design and fabricate a massively-parallel microanode printhead using a custom complementary metal-oxide semiconductor integrated circuit (CMOS IC) chip with independent electronics for each pixel. This microanode in close proximity to the cathode surface will electroplate dissolved ions into a small voxel. The probe then moves and continues to deposit material creating wires, rods, or other shapes. The resulting setup is a high density localized electrochemical deposition (HD-LECD). The application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip inside the printhead is a microanode array with hundreds of parallel electrodes and independent current generator circuits, which would increase electrodeposition throughput and improve accuracy.
- Value Proposition: Faster and more precise additive manufacturing of miniature batteries, neural prosthetics, and microelectronic interconnects.
- Massive parallelization -> Higher throughput
- Independent electronics per pixel -> Improved accuracy
- Electrochemical devices such as batteries, electrolyzers, fuel cells, CO2 electroreduction reactors, etc.
- Localized Electrochemical Deposition (LECD) additive manufacturing technology for printing metals, alloys and conductive polymers
- HD-LECD directly on top of other ASICs to create on-chip antennas, on-chip batteries, and on-chip MEMS sensors
Current stage of technology development: TRL 2 (Technology concept and/or application formulated)
LLNL has filed for patent protection on this invention.
U.S. Patent Application No. 2023/0095982 System and Method for Direct Electroless Plating of 3D-Printable Glass for Selective Surface Patterning, published 03/30/2023