The next phase of 3D printing will likely be a combination of the traditional forms of 3D printing we’ve become familiar with, like extrusion processes, with something that might be more accurately described as 3D assembly. For instance, at Hod Lipson’s lab at Columbia University, the 3D printing pioneer is working to print parts that are combined electronic components to form fully functional objects. When this field has really evolved, we will be able to move on from 3D printing parts to complete products, similar to those or better than what we might purchase from a retail store. In Ireland, Prof. Valeria Nicolosi, of the Amber Centre at Trinity College Dublin, will be contributing significantly to this evolution as she works on a project to develop long-lasting, low-cost, customizable batteries with 2D and 3D printing.
With a €2.5 million European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant grant, Prof. Nicolosi has the means with which to push her 3D2DPrint project forward for five years. This funding will see Nicolosi expand beyond the current lithium ion battery technology we’ve grown familiar with in a variety of important ways. In addition to making completely customized batteries, fabricated in any shape or size, her team will explore the camouflaging of those devices within any type of material, including clothing, electronics, or even within the human body. On top of that, these batteries are designed to be completely non-harmful and non-flammable.
Prof. Nicolosi says of the grant, “Since 2011, the first year of my ERC Starting Grant, my group has grown from three to 25 people. The ERC Grants I have been awarded were not only important in helping fund our research and grow our team, but to also help leverage more funding and realise partnerships with large multinationals. What is key is that these Grants allow us to take the next step with our research – whether it is the licencing of technology or starting up a new company.”
Director of Amber, Prof. Michael Morris, adds, “The awarding of this Consolidator Grant to Prof Nicolosi is an excellent acknowledgement of the research work she and her team are currently undergoing. The work Prof. Nicolosi and her team are doing is at the fore front of their fields, and this grant will help them take the next step in combining the team’s expertise of advanced materials methods to integrate nanomaterials into 3D printed energy storage devices.”
This isn’t the first time that Nicolosi has won an ERC award. So far, with four ERC grants, she has received over €11 million in the past five years. The funding of this latest project should come as no surprise then, particularly when the her technology could change the way that everything from wearables to smart phones are made.