Rensselaer doctoral graduate and LESA researcher wins 2019 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Manufacturing Innovator Challenge competition. The Manufacturing Innovator Challenge competition is a new contest launched by the DOE last October and Deagen is the first recipient for his submission entitled, “Layer-by-Layer Stamping for Developing Next-Generation Optical Waveguides.”Michael Deagen (’18) has conducted his doctoral research at the LESA Center and advised by Rensselaer Assistant Professor Chaitanya Ullal in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Deagen also received support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) for developing low-cost manufacturing techniques for photonic crystals – structured materials whose refractive index is modulated in three dimensions at size-scale comparable to the wavelengths of visible light. His work, which focuses on fundamental materials challenges such as wetting and adhesion, is featured in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces and Soft Matter. Understanding the physics of these processes is key to developing low cost, high volume photonic crystal waveguide manufacturing.
In his concept paper, Deagen posits that optical waveguide materials of the future will be inspired by photonic crystals and argues that layer-by-layer stamping in a roll-to-roll process is important to construct these types of materials at low cost. The process involves coating a stamp with an ink material without a residual layer, solidifying the ink, and transferring the ink from stamp to substrate layer-by-layer. Conventional 3-D printing techniques are either unable to create structures with sufficiently high resolution or cannot create the necessary pattern across large areas within a realistic time frame for mass production. Read more, here.