3D Printing Carbonaceous Objects from Polyimide Pyrolysis

Clay B. Arrington, Daniel A. Rau, Johanna A. Vandenbrande, Maruti Hegde, Christopher B. Williams, Timothy E. Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Fully aromatic polyimides are amenable to efficient carbonization in thin two-dimensional (2D) films due to a complement of aromaticity and planarity of backbone repeating units. However, repeating unit rigidity traditionally imposes processing limitations, restricting many fully aromatic polyimides, e.g., pyromellitic dianhydride with 4,4′-oxidianiline (PMDA-ODA) polyimides, to a 2D form factor. Recently, research efforts in our laboratories enabled additive manufacturing of micron-scale resolution PMDA-ODA polyimide objects using vat photopolymerization (VP) and ultraviolet-assisted direct ink write (UV-DIW) following careful thermal postprocessing of the three-dimensional (3D) organogel precursors to 400 °C. Further thermal postprocessing of printed objects to 1000 °C induced pyrolysis of the PMDA-ODA objects to disordered carbon. The pyrolyzed objects retained excellent geometric resolution, and Raman spectroscopy displayed characteristic disordered (D) and graphitic (G) carbon bands. Scanning electron microscopy probed the cross-sectional homogeneity of the carbonized samples, revealing an absence of pore formation during carbonization. Likewise, impedance analysis of carbonized specimens indicated only a moderate decrease in conductivity compared to thin films that were pyrolyzed using an identical carbonization process. Facile pyrolysis of PMDA-ODA objects now enables the production of carbonaceous monoliths with complex and predictable three-dimensional geometries using commercially available starting materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-418
Number of pages7
JournalACS Macro Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 20 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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