- Fan, H. Y. and Lu, Y. F. and Stump, A. and Reed, S. T. and Baer, T. and Schunk, R. and Perez-Luna, V. and Lopez, G. P. and Brinker, C. J., Rapid prototyping of patterned functional nanostructures,
NATURE, vol. 405 no. 6782
pp. 56--60 .
(last updated on 2010/02/08)
Living systems exhibit form and function on multiple length scales and at multiple locations. In order to mimic such natural structures, it is necessary to develop efficient strategies for assembling hierarchical materials. Conventional photolithography, although ubiquitous in the fabrication of microelectronics and microelectromechanical systems, is impractical for defining feature sizes below 0.1 micrometres and poorly suited to pattern chemical functionality. Recently, so-called 'soft' lithographic approaches(1) have been combined with surfactant(2,3) and particulate(4) templating procedures to create materials with multiple levels of structural order. But the materials thus formed have been limited primarily to oxides with no specific functionality, and the associated processing times have ranged from hours to days. Here, using a self-assembling 'ink', we combine silica-surfactant self-assembly with three rapid printing procedures-pen lithography, ink-jet printing, and dip-coating of patterned self-assembled monolayers-to form functional, hierarchically organized structures in seconds. The rapid-prototyping procedures we describe are simple, employ readily available equipment, and provide a link between computer-aided design and self-assembled nanostructures. We expect that the ability to form arbitrary functional designs on arbitrary surfaces will be of practical importance for directly writing sensor arrays and fluidic or photonic systems.