Reactive Bubble Printing

Nanotechnologies : Physical Science Apps

Available for licensing


  • Yuebing Zheng, Ph.D. , Mech Engineering
  • Bharath Rajeeva , Mechanical Engineering

Background/unmet need

The realization of optically active structures with direct-write printing has been challenging, particularly in spatially constrained microfluidic devices which are essential for point-of-care (POC) sensing and diagnostics. The existing techniques are limited by resolution, accessibility and multi-step fabrication constraints.

Invention Description

Researchers at UT Austin have developed a reactive bubble printing (RBP) technique, which utilizes a plasmonic-microbubble-based approach to simultaneously reduce and print silver (or other metal-based) nanoparticles from a precursor ink.

A microbubble generated by a continuous-wave laser acts as a micro-reactor to concentrate the precursor ions and thermally reduce, in this case, Ag from the precursor along the bubble/water interface and yield a ring morphology instantaneously. Ag rings with tunable radius from 1 to 2 μm were fabricated. Further, by the rational design via computer programming, researchers have achieved various spatial arrangements and ring arrays which exhibit optical activity in the mid-IR and visible wavelengths.

With its advantages of combining the fabrication and printing step, near-instantaneous reduction from the precursor, and nano/microscale reaction confinement, RBP reduces the number of fabrication steps and complexity. In addition, RBP is compatible with spatially constrained microfluidic devices, which is crucial for point-of-care (POC) diagnostic and therapeutic applications.


  • RBP demonstrates the ability to achieve sub-micron resolution within a single-step process, and is simultaneously compatible with spatially constrained scenarios.
  • By acting as a micro-reactor, RBP can confine and induce photochemical processes which typically require extreme conditions.


  • Single-step printing process ("point-and-shoot"), which is easily scalable for commercialization.
  • RBP technology is applicable to various types of particles and materials, and is compatible with spatially-constrained microfluidic devices.
  • RBP technology allows simple control for complicated synthesis operations and is low-cost due to substrates and laser used to perform one-step synthesis.

Market potential/applications

Reactive bubble print technology can enhance applications in point-of-care medical devices, pharmaceutics, catalysis and electronics

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype