New method for the production of defined microparticles with 3-D nanopatterns

Nov 15, 2007

Many scientists are working feverishly to develop reliable but simple methods for the production of tiny particles with defined size and shape that are covered with special regular patterns in two or three dimensions and at both the nano- and the microscale. These miniature objects have countless applications in modern technology, from diagnostic systems to the generation of artificial tissues to improved data storage.

A team headed by Edwin L. Thomas and Patrick S. Doyle at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA) has now developed a new method for the large-scale synthesis of three-dimensionally patterned polymer particles with morphological characteristics in the submicrometer range. As described in the journal Angewandte Chemie, with the use of stop-flow interference lithography, the team has even been able to produce Janus particles, microparticles with two chemically different hemispheres.

“Our new method is a combination of phase mask interference lithography and mirofluidic flow lithography, unifying the strengths of these two methods,” explain the researchers. Liquid precursors of a polymer whose formation is induced by light are introduced into a microfluidic system (a system of channels that are just a few micrometers wide). The bottom portion of the device is a phase mask with a periodic surface structure.

This arrangement is irradiated through a transparency mask that defines the shape of the resulting particles. In a test sample these were triangles with sides of 60 µm. Once the parallel light rays pass through the strictly periodic surface structure of the phase mask, the result is a complex three-dimensional distribution of light intensity within the liquid (interference).

In regions of high intensity, the polymer precursors are cross-linked to form three-dimensional structures in a solid hydrogel. In this way, the researchers were able to give the triangular particles a knobby, lattice-like structure.

Because this method works continuously, it can attain a very high throughput: Liquid flows in and polymerizes to form particles that are immediately rinsed away when the next portion of liquid follows—all in less than a second. In contrast to other techniques, the liquid does not need to be deposited in an even layer on a support and developed stepwise.

In addition, within a microchannel, it is possible to allow two different liquids to flow side by side without mixing. If the transparency mask is adjusted so that the light irradiates a region around the boundary between the two liquids, the process results in Janus particles with two chemically different hemispheres.

Citation: Edwin L. Thomas, A Route to Three-Dimensional Structures in a Microfluidic Device: Stop-Flow Interference Lithography, Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2007, 46, No. 47, 9027–9031, doi: 10.1002/anie.200703525

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Making graphene in your kitchen

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New light on novel additive manufacturing approach

Apr 11, 2014

(Phys.org) —For nearly a century, electrophoretic deposition (EPD) has been used as a method of coating material by depositing particles of various substances onto the surfaces of various manufactured items. ...

Detecting tumor markers easily

Mar 19, 2014

Blood is just teeming with proteins. It's not easy there to identify specialized tumor markers indicating the presence of cancer. A new method now enables diagnostics to be carried out in a single step. Scientists ...

Self-steering particles go with the flow

Nov 11, 2013

MIT chemical engineers have designed tiny particles that can "steer" themselves along preprogrammed trajectories and align themselves to flow through the center of a microchannel, making it possible to control ...

Ribosome research takes shape

Aug 29, 2013

In a new state-of-the-art lab at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, components of ribosomes – tiny biological machines that make new proteins and play a vital role in gene expression and antibiotic treatments ...

DNA and quantum dots: All that glitters is not gold

Jan 25, 2013

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has shown that by bringing gold nanoparticles close to the dots and using a DNA template to control the distances, ...

Recommended for you

Making graphene in your kitchen

13 hours ago

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Thinnest feasible nano-membrane produced

Apr 17, 2014

A new nano-membrane made out of the 'super material' graphene is extremely light and breathable. Not only can this open the door to a new generation of functional waterproof clothing, but also to ultra-rapid filtration. The ...

Wiring up carbon-based electronics

Apr 17, 2014

Carbon-based nanostructures such as nanotubes, graphene sheets, and nanoribbons are unique building blocks showing versatile nanomechanical and nanoelectronic properties. These materials which are ordered ...

Making 'bucky-balls' in spin-out's sights

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —A new Oxford spin-out firm is targeting the difficult challenge of manufacturing fullerenes, known as 'bucky-balls' because of their spherical shape, a type of carbon nanomaterial which, like ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

(Phys.org) —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...