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Reliable, Simple Surface Patterning


One of the most significant interdisciplinary research achievement flowing from the IGERT has been the development of a reliable simple approach for patterning virtually any surface to the nanometer scale. The soft lithography approaches originally reported by Nuzzo and Allara and later popularized by Whitesides and co-workers have resulted in enormous research gains, as researchers developed the ability to create surfaces of widely varying composition and structure. Unfortunately, the approach is essentially limited to the deposition of alkane thiols on gold. Despite the many attractive features of this system, the requirement for gold as a substrate is clearly limiting: gold is not flat over even relatively small distances, contains areas of structure (crystallinity), and is optically opaque.

Under the auspices of the IGERT program, we have developed catalytic lithography, using both biological and abiological catalysts, to extend soft lithography to virtually any substrate, including very flat surfaces (silica, mica) and optically transparent materials. This achievement required the collaborative interdisciplinary activities of chemists and engineers, to identify and prepare the requisite surfaces and chemistries, to prepare elastomeric stamps with nanometer features, and to characterize surfaces following patterning.

This single overarching achievement has produced several additional significant achievements, including the development of novel elastomeric stamps suitable for chemical functionalization, the development of novel catalysts for pattern transfer, and the development of novel chemistries for functionalizing inorganic materials.

Address Goals

This achievement will allow investigators in the US to lead surface chemistry and surface science exploration.