Engineers have embedded high-performance electrical circuits inside 3D printed plastics, which could lead to better-performing biomedical implants. They used pulses of high-energy light to fuse tiny silver wires, resulting in circuits that conduct 10 times more electricity than the state of the art. By increasing conductivity tenfold, the engineers can reduce energy use, extend the life of devices. and increase the device’s performance.

This is an example of simple light-sensing electronics with an LED (light-emitting diode), a light-sensitive diode, and power connected by a high-performance circuit inside polymer. (Credit: Md Naim Jahangir)

The engineers used high-tech “intense pulsed light sintering” — featuring high-energy light from a xenon lamp — to fuse long thin rods of silver called nanowires. Embedding electrical interconnections inside 3D printed structures made of polymers, or plastics, can create new paradigms for devices that are smaller and more energy-efficient.

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