New microfabrication technology announced

February 8, 2007

U.S. scientists have created a new method of rapidly engineering complex micro-scale patterns and 3D microstructures from biocompatible proteins.

Hason Shear and Bryan Kaehr of the University of Texas say their microfabrication technology involves a laser technique to fabricate detailed shapes by condensing, or crosslinking, proteins in solution into a solid matrix.

The technique, called mask-directed multi-photon lithography, is modeled after the lithography processes widely used to transfer electronic circuits onto a semiconductor wafer by projecting light through a pattern or "mask." However, the new method uses a special laser to scan objects or patterns printed on transparency film with an ordinary desktop printer.

The silhouette ultimately is refocused into the protein solution using the objective lens of a microscope. Because protein molecules must be extremely close to the laser focus to undergo crosslinking into solid material, the method allows structures to be created with complex 3-D shapes. The process takes only minutes, the researchers report.

The research is to appear in the Feb. 28 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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