3D Printed Active Electronic Materials and Devices

Web Published:

Researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University have patented the 3D printing of active (semiconductor) electronic materials and devices, based on an extrusion process. The technique allows for printing of devices on flexible sheets, over large areas, in horizontal and vertical configurations, in three-dimensional shapes, and on 3D (non-flat) surfaces, for a variety of applications.


3D printing has been used for components such as plastic, metal, and ceramic parts, and biological applications. A significant advance would be the ability to 3D print high performance, functionally active electronic materials and devices in a variety of geometries, form factors, and on various surfaces.


This innovation has demonstrated that active electronic materials and devices can be 3D printed and fully integrated into semiconducting electronic devices. All components of the device are fully 3D printed, including: (1) semiconducting particles, (2) soft encapsulation, (3) organic polymers for charge transport, and (4) solid and liquid metal leads.


Proof of concept experiments include fully 3D printed quantum dot-based light-emitting diodes (QD-LEDs) that exhibit pure and tunable color emission properties, conformally printed devices onto curvilinear surfaces such as contact lenses, printing onto skin and the human body, large-array flexible sheets with fully 3D printed semiconducting devices, and a 3D printed cube containing encapsulated LEDs in a 2 x 2 x 2 array, in which every component of the cube and electronics are 3D printed from scratch.


•       3D printing

•       Semiconductor devices

•       Active electronics

•       Biomedical devices with embedded electronics

•       Novel architectures not easily accessed using standard microfabrication techniques



•       3D printed semiconductors

•       Ambient conditions

•       3D surface printing

•       Flexible surfaces

•       3D electronics

•       Vertical and three-dimensional electronics

•       No need for microfabrication


Y. L. Kong, I. A. Tamargo, H. Kim, B. N. Johnson, M. K. Gupta, T.-W. Koh, H.-A. Chin, D. A. Steingart, B. P. Rand, M. C. McAlpine. "3D Printed Quantum Dot Light-Emitting Diodes." Nano Lett. 14, 7017-7023 (2014).

Highlighted: “Materials: Diodes printed in three dimensions.” Nature 515, 468 (2014).

Highlighted: “Device fabrication: Three-dimensional printed electronics.” Nature 518, 42-43 (2015).


Intellectual Property & Development status

Princeton has an issued patent around this technology and is currently seeking commercial partners for the further development and commercialization of this opportunity.

To view the patent follow this link.


The Inventors

Michael C. McAlpine is the Benjamin Mayhugh Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota (2015-Present). He was an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University (2008-2015). He received a B.S. in Chemistry with honors from Brown University (2000) and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard University (2006). His research is focused on 3D printing functional materials & devices. He has received a number of awards: Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, TR35 Young Innovator Award, Air Force Young Investigator Award, Intelligence Community Young Investigator Award, DuPont Young Investigator Award, National Academy of Sciences Frontiers Fellow, DARPA Young Faculty Award, American Asthma Foundation Early Excellence Award, Graduate Student Mentoring Award, Extreme Mechanics Letters Young Lecturer, National Academy of Engineering Frontiers in Engineering.


Yong Lin Kong is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah (2018 – Present). Previously, he was a postdoctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2016 - 2017). He received a B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering with First Class Honors from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (2010), a M.A. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University (2012) and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science from Princeton University (2016). His research is focused on the fabrication of biomedical devices and the printing of nanomaterial-based functional devices. He is a recipient of the Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Asia Award, Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award, The Daniel & Florence Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Sayre Graduate Prize, and the HKUST Academic Achievement Medal.



Chris Wright

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing • (609) 258-6762• cw20@princeton.edu


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Chris Wright
Licensing Associate
Princeton University
Michael Mcalpine
Yong Lin Kong
3D Printing