By Jayna Miller
Rodney Sutherland, an undergraduate researcher working with CBE assistant professor Dr. Anson Ma, is the recipient of a Presidential Scholar Enrichment Award. The Presidential Scholars Program was established by the University of Connecticut to support educational enrichment in a variety of subject areas, providing up to $2,500 for undergraduate students.
The grant will be used to fund Sutherland’s research on constructing an experimental platform for understanding the fundamentals of inkjet and 3D printing. The research aims to improve the reliability and the resolution of existing printing technology for digital fabrication. The project will impact many practical applications – most notably, perhaps, is the potential for flexible electronics.
Flexible electronics are elastic, bendable devices that may have several advantages in applications such as cell phones, cameras, and e-book readers.
Another promising application relates to the medical field. Sensors, for example, can be printed on the skin as a “temporary tattoo” to monitor the health of patients. Similarly, skin grafts may also be printed to accelerate healing in the case of burns or extensive wounds.
Lastly, with improvements of printing reliability and resolution, it may one day be possible to use this technology to print organs. This means that essential organs can be designed and manufactured in the lab, and patients in need of a transplant will not have to endure a long waiting period. Dr. Anson Ma is currently advising two CBE Senior Design teams working on the 3D printing of artificial kidneys.