Print 14 comment(s) - last by Mint.. on Aug 17 at 6:58 PM

Team uses patterned lithography instead of dye

Using tiny patterned metal nano-discs researchers at the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR) Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) in Singapore have created [press release] a 100,000 dots-per-inch (dpi) print, the highest resolution color print ever produced.

According to the team industrial inkjet and laserjet printers can only reach a resolution of 10,000 dpi, while higher dpi research printers have only been capable of printing in a single color.

The key was to switch from a dye-based process or a lithography-type process.  Lithography refers to process that deposits coating material in a static pattern on another material.  

In the nano-printer, researchers use lithography to produce raised nano-patterns on a surface, which when coated in metal yield different colors.  Describes project leader, Dr. Joel Yang, "Instead of using different dyes for different colours, we encoded colour information into the size and position of tiny metal disks. These disks then interacted with light through the phenomenon of plasmon resonances."

"The team built a database of colour that corresponded to a specific nanostructure pattern, size and spacing. These nanostructures were then positioned accordingly. Similar to a child's 'colouring-by-numbers' image, the sizes and positions of these nanostructures defined the 'numbers'."

The etched image is colorless until the ultrathin metal film is applied.

Comments Dr. Yang, "But instead of sequentially colouring each area with a different ink, an ultrathin and uniform metal film was deposited across the entire image causing the 'encoded' colours to appear all at once, almost like magic!"
The patterned nanostructures (a) are colorless and gray scale, but once the metal thin film is added (b) high-density color is observed. [Image Source: A*STAR]

Dr. Karthik Kumar, another member of the research team, adds, "The resolution of printed colour images very much depends on the size and spacing between individual 'nanodots' of colour.  The closer the dots are together and because of their small size, the higher the resolution of the image. With the ability to accurately position these extremely small colour dots, we were able to demonstrate the highest theoretical print colour resolution of 100,000 dpi."

A key component of enabling the printing of real-world test images was to run computer simulations of various nano-structures to build the palette.  The simulations were performed at A*STAR's Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC).  Comments simulation leader Dr Ravi Hegde, "The computer simulations were vital in understanding how the structures gave rise to such rich colours. This knowledge is currently being used to predict the behaviour of more complicated nanostructure arrays."

There's the obvious application of this technology -- high resolution color printing.  But researchers say the technology could also be used for high-density optical storage and to create high-resolution reflective color displays.

Having published [abstract] the work in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Nature Nanotechnology, A*STAR is now looking to patent and license the novel coloring method.

Sources: Nature Nanotechnology, A*STAR

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By ViroMan on 8/14/2012 4:47:45 PM , Rating: 0
I don't know about your eyes but, to mine that doesn't look very high quality for how many DPI there is.

RE: huh...
By dowen777 on 8/14/2012 5:01:13 PM , Rating: 5
The units of length on the images were pm (picometers) or 1×10^-12 meters. Pretty small, huh? Maybe you'll revise your opinion.

RE: huh...
By geddarkstorm on 8/15/2012 12:37:30 PM , Rating: 3
Micrometers, not picometers, my friend. An atom is only 100 to 200 picometers in size.

RE: huh...
By Fritzr on 8/14/2012 7:44:17 PM , Rating: 2
Image A is approx 5 picometers square.
In inches this is approximately 5 picometer = 1.9685e-10 inch (US survey)
You can do a quick conversion here:[pm]-to-centimeter-[cm]/

In terms of visual resolution...
If image A is a single dot on the printed page, then the dpi printed using that image to represent each entire pixel gives a DPI of (approximately) 8128016256032DPI which is a little better than the 600-3000DPI or so available on most printers available to consumers.

Considering that the image itself is roughly 50x50, you can multiply the 'tiny' DPI by 50 to get a rough idea of the DPI it was actually printed at. Hint: You will need an electron microscope to read the fine print :P

Note the reason I stated approximization is that the converter I used for convenience only offers 5 decimal places of accuracy on a value that has 10+ significant decimal places. Also I didn't actually count the dots in the image. 50 is just a rough estimate. If you need the accurate numbers look up the inches to meter relationship and count the dots in the image :D

RE: huh...
By Fritzr on 8/14/2012 8:18:43 PM , Rating: 2
I thought that number was off...was going by the previous post. That's what I get for not checking the facts before posting...

The u w/tail is micrometer or 1000 nanometer
Counting the dots in the detail (image C) gives 10 dots per micrometer. 100nanometer pixels
At 1 micrometer (micron) in size, the inch measure is 0.00003937
This gives a DPI of 25400 or only a quarter of their limit...

So yes, I guess at "only" 25400DPI this is a low resolution print ... you are still going to need an electron microscope to read the fine print. 8bit fonts were often 8 by 8, allowing 3175 chars per inch. So an 8.5x11 inch page with .5 inch total margin top & sides only allows 25,400 characters per line & 33,337 lines per page using an 8x8 character cell. This is really going to be limiting for the lawyers :P

RE: huh...
By geddarkstorm on 8/15/2012 12:38:59 PM , Rating: 2
Seems a lot of folks are confusing the greek mu, for the micro prefix, with a p for pico. Easy to do though, if one is not used to dealing with such tiny units of measure!

RE: huh...
By Mint on 8/17/2012 6:58:16 PM , Rating: 2
There are 25,400 micrometers per inch, but if the dot size is 1/10th of a micrometer, then that makes it 254,000 DPI.

I think their method needs more than one dot to get the plasma resonance working, which is why they said 100,000 DPI.

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