The scientists' approach begins with the creation of a scaffold made of polyacrylate, an absorbent material found in diapers. They then immerse the structure in a solution of fluorescein molecules that attach to the scaffold when exposed to light. With lasers, most particles can be placed anywhere, be it genetic material or metal nanoparticles. To shrink the structure afterwards, the team introduces an acid that blocks negative charges in the polyacrylate and forces it to shrink.
There are limits to the existing technology. The resolution of the final product directly correlates with its size. An object with one cubic millimeter can have a resolution of 50 nanometers, but you must blow it up to 1
The potential, however, is enormous. The researchers suggest that this could initially be used to fabricate specialized optics for science, microscopes, and even smartphones, but could be enormously useful for nanometer-sized robots. The biggest challenge at this point is scaling. While the equipment needed is readily available in laboratories, it could be another matter to mass-produce nanoscale parts.