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Self-Organized Meso-Patterning of Soft Solids by Controlled Adhesion: Elastic Contact Lithography

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The surface of a soft elastic film becomes unstable and deforms when a rigid flat plate is brought into its contact proximity, without application of any external pressure. These isotropic undulations have a characteristic wavelength, λ ∼ 3H, where H is the film thickness. The wavelength is independent of the adhesive interactions and the mechanical properties of the film. We present here a mini-review of our recent work on techniques of aligning, modulating, and ordering the instability structures by the use of simple 1-D patterned stamps, by changing the stamp-surface separation, by slow shearing of a flat stamp and by confining the instability in soft narrow channels. The generality of the technique for different soft materials is illustrated by patterning cross-linked polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), aluminum coated PDMS and hydrogels films. Use of a flexible stamp such as a metal foil provides enhanced conformal contact by adhesive forces, which aids large area patterning without critically maintaining a parallel configuration and uniform pressure between the stamp and the film. The technique has the potential to develop into a new soft lithography tool—"Elastic Contact Lithography" suitable for rapid, large area micron and sub-micron self-organized patterning of a variety of soft materials without any special equipments.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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  • Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.
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