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1.  Controlling Film Morphology in Conjugated Polymer 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2008;130(47):15916-15926.
We study the effects of patterned surface chemistry on the microscale and nanoscale morphology of solution-processed donor/acceptor polymer-blend films. Focusing on combinations of interest in polymer solar cells, we demonstrate that patterned surface chemistry can be used to tailor the film morphology of blends of semiconducting polymers such as poly-[2-(3,7-dimethyloctyloxy)-5-methoxy-p-phenylenevinylene] (MDMO-PPV), poly-3-hexylthiophene (P3HT), poly[(9,9-dioctylflorenyl-2,7-diyl)-co-benzothiadiazole)] (F8BT), and poly(9,9-dioctylfluorene-co-bis-N,N’-(4-butylphenyl)-bis-N,N’-phenyl-1,4-phenylendiamine) (PFB) with the fullerene derivative, [6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM). We present a method for generating patterned, fullerene-terminated monolayers on gold surfaces, and use microcontact printing and Dip-Pen Nanolithography (DPN) to pattern alkanethiols with both micro- and nanoscale features. After patterning with fullerenes and other functional groups, we backfill the rest of the surface with a variety of thiols to prepare substrates with periodic variations in surface chemistry. Spin coating polymer:PCBM films onto these substrates, followed by thermal annealing under nitrogen, leads to the formation of structured polymer films. We characterize these films with Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Raman spectroscopy, and fluorescence microscopy. The surface patterns are effective in guiding phase separation in all of the polymer:PCBM systems investigated, and lead to a rich variety of film morphologies that are inaccessible with unpatterned substrates. We demonstrate our ability to guide pattern formation in films thick enough of be of interest for actual device applications (up to 200 nm in thickness) using feature sizes as small as 100 nm. Finally, we show that the surface chemistry can lead to variations in film morphology on length scales significantly smaller than those used in generating the original surface patterns. The variety of behaviors observed and the wide range of control over polymer morphology achieved at a variety of different length scales have important implications for the development of bulk heterojunction solar cells.
PMCID: PMC2702008  PMID: 18983150
2.  Near-field photochemical and radiation-induced chemical fabrication of nanopatterns of a self-assembled silane monolayer 
A general concept for parallel near-field photochemical and radiation-induced chemical processes for the fabrication of nanopatterns of a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) of (3-aminopropyl)triethoxysilane (APTES) is explored with three different processes: 1) a near-field photochemical process by photochemical bleaching of a monomolecular layer of dye molecules chemically bound to an APTES SAM, 2) a chemical process induced by oxygen plasma etching as well as 3) a combined near-field UV-photochemical and ozone-induced chemical process, which is applied directly to an APTES SAM. All approaches employ a sandwich configuration of the surface-supported SAM, and a lithographic mask in form of gold nanostructures fabricated through colloidal sphere lithography (CL), which is either exposed to visible light, oxygen plasma or an UV–ozone atmosphere. The gold mask has the function to inhibit the photochemical reactions by highly localized near-field interactions between metal mask and SAM and to inhibit the radiation-induced chemical reactions by casting a highly localized shadow. The removal of the gold mask reveals the SAM nanopattern.
PMCID: PMC4168865  PMID: 25247126
colloid lithography; contact lithography; near-field; photochemistry; self-assembled silane monolayers
3.  Positioning Multiple Proteins at the Nanoscale with Electron Beam Cross-Linked Functional Polymers 
Constructing multicomponent protein structures that match the complexity of those found in Nature is essential for the next generation of medical materials. In this report, a versatile method to precisely arrange multicomponent protein nanopatterns in two-dimensional single-layer or three-dimensional multilayer formats using electron beam lithography is described. Eight arm poly(ethylene glycol)s were modified at the chain ends with either biotin, maleimide, aminooxy, or nitrilotriacetic acid. Analysis by 1H NMR spectroscopy revealed that the reactions were efficient and that end group conversions were 91-100%. The polymers were then cross-linked onto Si surfaces using electron beams to form micron sized patterns of the functional groups. Proteins with biotin binding sites, a free cysteine, an N-terminal α-oxoamide, and a histidine tag, respectively, were then incubated with the substrate in aqueous solutions without the addition of any other reagents. By fluorescence microscopy experiments it was determined that proteins reacted site-specifically with the exposed functional groups to form protein micropatterns. Multicomponent nanoscale protein patterns were then fabricated. Different PEGs with orthogonal reactivity were sequentially patterned on the same chip. Simultaneous assembly of two different proteins from a mixture of the biomolecules formed the multicomponent two dimensional patterns. Atomic force microscopy demonstrated that nanometer sized patterns of polymer were formed and fluorescence microscopy demonstrated that side-by-side patterns of the different proteins were obtained. Moreover, multilayer PEG fabrication produced micron and nanometer sized patterns of one functional group on top of the other. Precise three-dimensional arrangements of different proteins were then realized.
PMCID: PMC3050812  PMID: 19160460
4.  Colloidal lithography and current fabrication techniques producing in-plane nanotopography for biological applications 
Substrate topography plays a vital role in cell and tissue structure and function in situ, where nanometric features, for example, the detail on single collagen fibrils, influence cell behaviour and resultant tissue formation. In vitro investigations demonstrate that nanotopography can be used to control cell reactions to a material surface, indicating its potential application in tissue engineering and implant fabrication. Developments in the catalyst, optical, medical and electronics industries have resulted in the production of nanopatterned surfaces using a variety of methods. The general protocols for nanomanufacturing require high resolution and low cost for fabricating devices. With respect to biological investigations, nanotopographies should occur across a large surface area (ensuring repeatability of experiments and patterning of implant surfaces), be reproducible (allowing for consistency in experiments), and preferably, accessible (limiting the requirement for specialist equipment). Colloidal lithography techniques fit these criteria, where nanoparticles can be utilized in combination with a functionalized substrate to produce in-plane nanotopographies. Subsequent lithographic processing of colloidal substrates utilizing, for example, reactive ion etching allows the production of modified colloidal-derived nanotopographies. In addition to two-dimensional in-plane nanofabrication, functionalized structures can be dip coated in colloidal sols, imparting nanotopographical cues to cells within a three-dimensional environment.
PMCID: PMC2358954  PMID: 17015295
colloid; fabrication; lithography; nanotopography; cell biology; tissue engineering
5.  Selective Filling of Nanowells in Nanowell Arrays Fabricated Using Polystyrene Nanosphere Lithography with Cytochrome P450 Enzymes 
Nanotechnology  2012;23(38):385101.
This work describes an original and simple technique for protein immobilization into nanowells, fabricated using nanopatterned-array fabrication methods, while ensuring the protein retains the normal biological activity. Nanosphere-lithography was used to fabricate a nanowell array with nanowells that were 100 nm in diameter and a periodicity of 500 nm. The base of the nanowells was gold and the surrounding material was silicon dioxide. The different surface chemistries of these materials were used to attach two different self-assembled monolayers (SAM) with different affinities for the protein used here, cytochrome P450 (P450). The nanowell SAM, a methyl terminated thiol, had high affinity for the P450. The surrounding SAM, a polyethylene glycol silane, displayed very little affinity toward the P450 isozyme CYP2C9, as demonstrated by x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and surface plasmon resonance. The regularity of the nanopatterned array was examined by scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. P450-mediated metabolism experiments of known substrates demonstrated that the nanowell bound P450 enzyme exceeded its normal activity, as compared to P450 solutions, when bound to the methyl terminated self-assembled monolayer. The nanopatterned array chips bearing P450 display long term stability and give reproducible results making them potentially useful for high throughput screening assays or as nanoelectrode arrays.
PMCID: PMC3465080  PMID: 22947619
Nanowell array; Self-assembled monolayer; cytochrome P450
6.  A multi-compartment CNS neuron-glia co-culture microfluidic platform 
We present a novel multi-compartment neuron co-culture microsystem platform for in vitro CNS axon-glia interaction research, capable of conducting up to six independent experiments in parallel for higher-throughput. We developed a new fabrication method to create microfluidic devices having both micro and macro scale structures within the same device through a single soft-lithography process, enabling mass fabrication with good repeatability.
The multi-compartment microfluidic co-culture platform is composed of one soma compartment for neurons and six axon/glia compartments for oligodendrocytes (OLs). The soma compartment and axon/glia compartments are connected b y arrays of axon-guiding microchannels that function as physical barriers to confine neuronal soma in the soma compartment, while allowing axons to grow into axon/glia compartments. OLs loaded into axon/glia compartments can interact only with axons but not with neuronal soma or dendrites, enabling localized axon-glia interaction studies. The microchannels also enabled fluidic isolation between compartments, allowing six independent experiments to be conducted on a single device for higher throughput.
Soft-lithography using poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) is a commonly used technique in biomedical microdevices. Reservoirs on these devices are commonly defined by manual punching. Although simple, poor alignment and time consuming nature of the process makes this process not suitable when large numbers of reservoirs have to be repeatedly created. The newly developed method did not require manual punching of reservoirs, overcoming such limitations. First, seven reservoirs (depth: 3.5 mm) were made on a poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) block using a micro-milling machine. Then, arrays of ridge microstructures, fabricated on a glass substrate, were hot-embossed against the PMMA block to define microchannels that connect the soma and axon/glia compartments. This process resulted in macro-scale reservoirs (3.5 mm) and micro-scale channels (2.5 µm) to coincide within a single PMMA master. A PDMS replica that served as a mold master was obtained using soft-lithography and the final PDMS device was replicated from this master.
Primary neurons from E16–18 rats were loaded to the soma compartment and cultured for two weeks. After one week of cell culture, axons crossed microchannels and formed axonal only network layer inside axon/glia compartments. Axons grew uniformly throughout six axon/glia compartments and OLs from P1–2 rats were added to axon/glia compartments at 14 days in vitro for co-culture.
PMCID: PMC2774404  PMID: 19745806
Neuron culture; neuron-glia interaction; microfluidics; cell culture microsystem
7.  Selective patterning of ZnO nanorods on silicon substrates using nanoimprint lithography 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2011;6(1):159.
In this research, nanoimprint lithography (NIL) was used for patterning crystalline zinc oxide (ZnO) nanorods on the silicon substrate. To fabricate nano-patterned ZnO nanorods, patterning of an n-octadecyltrichlorosilane (OTS) self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on SiO2 substrate was prepared by the polymer mask using NI. The ZnO seed layer was selectively coated only on the hydrophilic SiO2 surface, not on the hydrophobic OTS SAMs surface. The substrate patterned with the ZnO seed layer was treated with the oxygen plasma to oxidize the silicon surface. It was found that the nucleation and initial growth of the crystalline ZnO were proceeded only on the ZnO seed layer, not on the silicon oxide surface. ZnO photoluminescence spectra showed that ZnO nanorods grown from the seed layer treated with plasma showed lower intensity than those untreated with plasma at 378 nm, but higher intensity at 605 nm. It is indicated that the seed layer treated with plasma produced ZnO nanorods that had a more oxygen vacancy than those grown from seed layer untreated with plasma. Since the oxygen vacancies on ZnO nanorods serve as strong binding sites for absorption of various organic and inorganic molecules. Consequently, a nano-patterning of the crystalline ZnO nanorods grown from the seed layer treated with plasma may give the versatile applications for the electronics devices.
PMCID: PMC3211210  PMID: 21711665
8.  Fabrication of Interdigitated Micropatterns of Self-Assembled Polymer Nanofilms Containing Cell-adhesive Materials 
Micropatterns of different biomaterials with micro- and nanoscale features and defined spatial arrangement on a single substrate are useful tools for studying cellular-level interactions, and recent reports have highlighted the strong influence of scaffold compliance in determining cell behavior. In this paper, a simple yet versatile and precise patterning technique for the fabrication of interdigitated micropatterns of nanocomposite multilayer coatings on a single substrate is demonstrated through a combination of lithography and layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly processes, termed as Polymer Surface Micromachining (PSM). The first nanofilm pattern is constructed using lithography, followed by LbL multilayer assembly and lift-off, and the process is repeated with optical alignment to obtain interdigitated patterns on the same substrate. Thus, the method is analogous to surface micromachining, except that the deposition materials are polymers and biological materials that are used to produce multilayer nanocomposite structures. A key feature of the multilayers is the capability to tune properties such as stiffness by appropriate selection of materials, deposition conditions, and post-deposition treatments. Two- and four-component systems on glass coverslips are presented to demonstrate the versatility of the approach to construct precisely-defined, homogeneous nanofilm patterns. In addition, an example of a complex system used as a testbed for in vitro cell adhesion and growth is provided: micropatterns of poly(sodium 4-styrenesulfonate)/poly-L-lysine hydrobromide (PSS/PLL) and secreted phospholipase A2/poly(ethyleneimine) (PEI/sPLA2) multilayers. The interdigitated square nanofilm array patterns were obtained on a single coverslip with poly(diallyldimethyl ammonium chloride) (PDDA) as a cell-repellent background. Cell culture experiments show that cortical neurons respond and bind specifically to the sPLA2 micropatterns in competition with PLL micropatterns. The fabrication and the initial biological results on the nanofilm micropatterns support the usefulness of the technique for use in studies aimed at elucidating important biological structure-function relationships, but the applicability of the fabrication method is much broader and may impact electronics, photonics, and chemical microsystems.
PMCID: PMC2536648  PMID: 16519477
9.  Tuning the Degradation Profiles of Poly(l-lactide)-Based Materials through Miscibility 
Biomacromolecules  2013;15(1):391-402.
The effective use of biodegradable polymers relies on the ability to control the onset of and time needed for degradation. Preferably, the material properties should be retained throughout the intended time frame, and the material should degrade in a rapid and controlled manner afterward. The degradation profiles of polyester materials were controlled through their miscibility. Systems composed of PLLA blended with poly[(R,S)-3-hydroxybutyrate] (a-PHB) and polypropylene adipate (PPA) with various molar masses were prepared through extrusion. Three different systems were used: miscible (PLLA/a-PHB5 and PLLA/a-PHB20), partially miscible (PLLA/PPA5/comp and PLLA/PPA20/comp), and immiscible (PLLA/PPA5 and PLLA/PPA20) blends. These blends and their respective homopolymers were hydrolytically degraded in water at 37 °C for up to 1 year. The blends exhibited entirely different degradation profiles but showed no diversity between the total degradation times of the materials. PLLA presented a two-stage degradation profile with a rapid decrease in molar mass during the early stages of degradation, similar to the profile of PLLA/a-PHB5. PLLA/a-PHB20 presented a single, constant linear degradation profile. PLLA/PPA5 and PLLA/PPA20 showed completely opposing degradation profiles relative to PLLA, exhibiting a slow initial phase and a rapid decrease after a prolonged degradation time. PLLA/PPA5/comp and PLLA/PPA20/comp had degradation profiles between those of the miscible and the immiscible blends. The molar masses of the materials were approximately the same after 1 year of degradation despite their different profiles. The blend composition and topographical images captured at the last degradation time point demonstrate that the blending component was not leached out during the period of study. The hydrolytic stability of degradable polyester materials can be tailored to obtain different and predetermined degradation profiles for future applications.
PMCID: PMC3892759  PMID: 24279455
10.  Fabrication of Tissue Engineering Scaffolds through Solid-state Foaming of Immiscible Polymer Blends 
Biofabrication  2011;3(4):045003.
In scaffold-based tissue engineering, the fabrication process is important for producing suitable microstructures for seeded cells to grow and reformulate. In this paper, we present a new approach to scaffold fabrication by combining the solid-state foaming and the immiscible polymer blending method. The proposed approach has the advantage of being versatile and able to create a wide range of pore size and porosity. The proposed method is studied with polylactic acid (PLA) and polystyrene (PS) blends. The interconnected porous structure was created by first foaming the PLA/PS blend and then extracting the PS phase. The solid-state foaming experiments were conducted under various conditions to achieve the desired pore sizes. It is shown that the PS phase of the PLA/PS blend can be extracted much faster in the foamed samples and the pore size of the scaffolds can be easily controlled with proper gas foaming parameters. The average pore size achieved in the foaming process ranged from 20-70 μm. After PS extraction, both pore size and porosity can be further improved. For example, the pore size and porosity increased from 48 μm and 49% to 59 μm and 67%, respectively, after the PS extraction process. The fabricated porous scaffolds were used to culture human osteoblast cells. Cells grew well and gradually formed a fibrous structure. The combined solid-state foaming and immiscible polymer blending method provides a new technique for fabricating tissue engineering scaffolds.
PMCID: PMC3229687  PMID: 21904025
Immiscible polymer blends; Solid-state foaming; Tissue engineering scaffolds; Osteoblast cells; Polylactic acid; Polystyrene
11.  Development of a Chemiresistor Sensor Based on Polymers-Dye Blend for Detection of Ethanol Vapor 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2010;10(4):2812-2820.
The conductive blend of the poly (3,4-ethylene dioxythiophene) and polystyrene sulfonated acid (PEDOT-PSS) polymers were doped with Methyl Red (MR) dye in the acid form and were used as the basis for a chemiresistor sensor for detection of ethanol vapor. This Au | Polymers-dye blend | Au device was manufactured by chemical vapor deposition and spin-coating, the first for deposition of the metal electrodes onto a glass substrate, and the second for preparation of the organic thin film forming ∼1.0 mm2 of active area. The results obtained are the following: (i) electrical resistance dependence with atmospheres containing ethanol vapor carried by nitrogen gas and humidity; (ii) sensitivity at 1.15 for limit detection of 26.25 ppm analyte and an operating temperature of 25 °C; and (iii) the sensing process is quickly reversible and shows very a low power consumption of 20 μW. The thin film morphology of ∼200 nm thickness was analyzed by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), where it was observed to have a peculiarly granulometric surface favorable to adsorption. This work indicates that PEDOT-PSS doped with MR dye to compose blend film shows good performance like resistive sensor.
PMCID: PMC3274177  PMID: 22319273
chemiresistor sensor; PEDOT-PSS; MR dye; ethanol vapor
12.  Effect of functional end groups of silane self assembled monolayer surfaces on apatite formation, fibronectin adsorption and osteoblast cell function 
Bioactive glass (BG) can directly bond to living bone without fibrous tissue encapsulation. Key mechanistic steps of BG’s activity are attributed to calcium phosphate formation, surface hydroxylation and fibronectin (FN) adsorption. In the present study, self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of alkanesilanes with different surface chemistry (OH, NH2, and COOH) were used as a model system to mimic BG’s surface activity. Calcium phosphate (Ca-P) was formed on SAMs by immersion in a solution which simulates the electrolyte content of physiological fluids. FN adsorption kinetics and monolayer coverage was determined on SAMs with or without Ca-P coating. The surface roughness was also examined on these substrates before and after FN adsorption. The effects of FN-adsorbed, Ca-P coated SAMs on the function of MC3T3-E1 were evaluated by cell growth, expression of alkaline phosphatase activity, and actin cytoskeleton formation. We demonstrate that, although the FN monolayer coverage and the rms roughness are similar on −OH and −COOH terminated SAMs with or without Ca-P coating, higher levels of ALP activity, more actin cytoskeleton formation and more cell growth are obtained on −OH and −COOH terminated SAMs with Ca-P coating. In addition, although the FN monolayer coverage is higher on Ca-P coated −NH2 terminated SAMs and SiOx surfaces, higher levels of ALP activity and more cell growth are obtained on Ca-P coated −OH and −COOH terminated SAMs. Thus with same Ca-P coatings, different surface functional groups have different effects on the function of osteoblastic cells. These findings represent new insights into the mechanism of bioactivity of BG and, thereby, may lead to designing superior constructs for bone grafting.
PMCID: PMC2610238  PMID: 19012271
self assembled monolayers; calcium phosphate; protein adsorption; cell attachment; proliferation; alkaline phosphatase activity
13.  Fabrication of flexible UV nanoimprint mold with fluorinated polymer-coated PET film 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2011;6(1):458.
UV curing nanoimprint lithography is one of the most promising techniques for the fabrication of micro- to nano-sized patterns on various substrates with high throughput and a low production cost. The UV nanoimprint process requires a transparent template with micro- to nano-sized surface protrusions, having a low surface energy and good flexibility. Therefore, the development of low-cost, transparent, and flexible templates is essential. In this study, a flexible polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film coated with a fluorinated polymer material was used as an imprinting mold. Micro- and nano-sized surface protrusion patterns were formed on the fluorinated polymer layer by the hot embossing process from a Si master template. Then, the replicated pattern of the fluorinated polymer, coated on the flexible PET film, was used as a template for the UV nanoimprint process without any anti-stiction coating process. In this way, the micro- to nano-sized patterns of the original master Si template were replicated on various substrates, including a flat Si substrate and curved acryl substrate, with high fidelity using UV nanoimprint lithography.
PMCID: PMC3211878  PMID: 21767390
14.  Automated scanning probe lithography with n-alkanethiol self assembled monolayers on Au(111): Application for teaching undergraduate laboratories 
Journal of Laboratory Automation  2011;16(2):112-125.
Controllers for scanning probe instruments can be programmed for automated lithography to generate desired surface arrangements of nanopatterns of organic thin films, such as n-alkanethiol self-assembled monolayers (SAMs). In this report, atomic force microscopy (AFM) methods of lithography known as nanoshaving and nanografting are used to write nanopatterns within organic thin films. Commercial instruments provide software to control the length, direction, speed, and applied force of the scanning motion of the tip. For nanoshaving, higher forces are applied to an AFM tip to selectively remove regions of the matrix monolayer, exposing bare areas of the gold substrate. Nanografting is accomplished by force-induced displacement of molecules of a matrix SAM, followed immediately by the surface self-assembly of n-alkanethiol molecules from solution. Advancements in AFM automation enable rapid protocols for nanolithography, which can be accomplished within the tight time restraints of undergraduate laboratories. Example experiments with scanning probe lithography (SPL) will be described in this report that were accomplished by undergraduate students during laboratory course activities and research internships in the chemistry department of Louisiana State University. Students were introduced to principles of surface analysis and gained “hands-on” experience with nanoscale chemistry.
PMCID: PMC3072817  PMID: 21483651
15.  Exploring Cellular Contact Guidance Using Gradient Nanogratings 
Biomacromolecules  2010;11(11):3067-3072.
Nanoscale surface features that mimic extracellular matrix are critical environmental cues for cell contact guidance and are vital in advanced medical devices in order to manipulate cell behaviors. Among them, nanogratings (line-and-space grating) are common platforms to study geometric effects on cell contact guidance, especially, cell alignment, but generally are one pattern height per platform. In this study, we developed a strategy to fabricate controlled substrates with a wide range of pattern shapes and surface chemistries and to separate surface chemistry and topography effects. As a demonstration of this strategy, six nanograting platforms on three materials were fabricated and applied to examine and differentiate the effects of surface topography and surface chemistry on cell contact guidance of murine preosteoblasts. All of the six platforms contained the same gradient in pattern height (0 nm to ≈ 350 nm). They were prepared using nanoimprint lithography and annealing for thermoplastic materials (low molecular weight polystyrene (PS) and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)) and photo-imprint for a thermoset material (a cross-linked dimethacrylate (DMA)). Each material contains two platforms that are only different in line-and-space pitches (420 nm or 800 nm). The DMA nanogratings had a reverse line-and-space profiles to those of the PS and PMMS nanogratings. Using these platforms, a full range of cell alignment, from randomly orientated to completely parallel to the grating direction was achieved. Results from focal adhesion assay and scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) indicated a change in cell-substrate contact from a non-composite state (full contact) to a composite state (partial contact between cell and substrate) as pattern height increased. These gradient platforms allowed for the separation of surface chemistry and surface topography to provide insight into the mechanisms responsible for cell contact guidance on nanopatterned surfaces.
PMCID: PMC3061972  PMID: 20954734
Surface topography; nanoimprint lithography; cell contact guidance; tissue engineering; extracellular matrix; focal adhesion
16.  Interior-architectured ZnO nanostructure for enhanced electrical conductivity via stepwise fabrication process 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2014;9(1):428.
Fabrication of ZnO nanostructure via direct patterning based on sol-gel process has advantages of low-cost, vacuum-free, and rapid process and producibility on flexible or non-uniform substrates. Recently, it has been applied in light-emitting devices and advanced nanopatterning. However, application as an electrically conducting layer processed at low temperature has been limited by its high resistivity due to interior structure. In this paper, we report interior-architecturing of sol-gel-based ZnO nanostructure for the enhanced electrical conductivity. Stepwise fabrication process combining the nanoimprint lithography (NIL) process with an additional growth process was newly applied. Changes in morphology, interior structure, and electrical characteristics of the fabricated ZnO nanolines were analyzed. It was shown that filling structural voids in ZnO nanolines with nanocrystalline ZnO contributed to reducing electrical resistivity. Both rigid and flexible substrates were adopted for the device implementation, and the robustness of ZnO nanostructure on flexible substrate was verified. Interior-architecturing of ZnO nanostructure lends itself well to the tunability of morphological, electrical, and optical characteristics of nanopatterned inorganic materials with the large-area, low-cost, and low-temperature producibility.
PMCID: PMC4165434  PMID: 25258595
Electrical conductivity; Interior-architecturing; ZnO nanostructure; Nanoimprint Lithography(NIL); Zinc oxide (ZnO); Hydrothermal growth
Micrometer and nanometer grooved surfaces have been determined to influence cellular orientation, morphology, and migration through contact guidance. Cells typically elongate along the direction of an underlying groove and often migrate with guidance provided by constraints of the pattern. This phenomenon has been studied primarily using linear grooves, post, or well patterns. We investigated the behavior of mouse embryonic fibroblasts on non-linear, sinusoidal wave grooves created via electron beam lithography on a polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) substrate that was spin-coated onto a positively charged glass surface. Three different wave patterns, with varying wavelengths and amplitudes, and two different line patterns were created. Cell orientation and adhesion was examined after 4, 24, and 48 hours after cell seeding. Attachment strength was studied via subjecting cells on substrates to centrifugal force following a 24-hour incubation period. For all wave patterns studied, it was noted that cells did not reside within the groove, rather they were observed to cross over each groove, residing both inside and outside of each wave pattern, aligning linearly along the long axis of the pattern. For the linear patterns, we observed that cells tended to reside within the grooves, consistent with previous observations. The ability to add texture to a surface to manipulate cell adhesion strength and growth with only localized attachment, maintaining free space in curvilinear microtopography underlying the cell, may be a useful addition for tissue engineering and the fabrication of novel biomedical devices.
PMCID: PMC3582717  PMID: 23375052
contact guidance; fibroblasts (3T3); micro patterning; electron beam lithography; cell alignment; micro topography
18.  Noninvasive Characterization of the Effect of Varying PLGA Molecular Weight Blends on In Situ Forming Implant Behavior Using Ultrasound Imaging 
Theranostics  2012;2(11):1064-1077.
In situ forming implants (ISFIs) have shown promise in drug delivery applications due to their simple manufacturing and minimally invasive administration. Precise, reproducible control of drug release from ISFIs is essential to their successful clinical application. This study investigated the effect of varying the molar ratio of different molecular weight (Mw) poly(D,L-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) polymers within a single implant on the release of a small Mw mock drug (sodium fluorescein) both in vitro and in vivo. Implants were formulated by dissolving three different PLGA Mw (15, 29, and 53kDa), as well as three 1:1 molar ratio combinations of each PLGA Mw in 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone (NMP) with the mock drug fluorescein. Since implant morphology and microstructure during ISFI formation and degradation is a crucial determinant of implant performance, and the rate of phase inversion has been shown to have an effect on the implant microstructure, diagnostic ultrasound was used to noninvasively quantify the extent of phase inversion and swelling behavior in both environments. Implant erosion, degradation, as well as the in vitro and in vivo release profiles were also measured using standard techniques. A non-linear mathematical model was used to correlate the drug release behavior with polymer phase inversion, with all formulations yielding an R2 value greater than 0.95. Ultrasound was also used to create a 3D image reconstruction of an implant over a 12 day span. In this study, swelling and phase inversion were shown to be inversely related to the polymer Mw with 53kDa polymer implants increasing at an average rate of 9.4%/day compared with 18.6%/day in the case of the 15 kDa PLGA. Additionally the onset of erosion, complete phase inversion, and degradation facilitated release required 9 d for 53 kDa implants, while these same processes began 3 d after injection into PBS with the 15 kDa implants. It was also observed that PLGA blends generally had intermediate properties when compared to pure polymer formulations. However, release profiles from the blend formulations were governed by a more complex set of processes and were not simply averages of release profiles from the pure polymers preparations. This study demonstrated that implant properties such as phase inversion, swelling and drug release could be tailored to by altering the molar ratio of the polymers used in the depot formulation.
PMCID: PMC3516837  PMID: 23227123
in situ forming implants; polymer molecular weight; phase inversion; biodegradable polymers; controlled release; ultrasound; drug delivery; PLGA.
19.  Micro- and nanofabrication methods in nanotechnological medical and pharmaceutical devices 
Micro- and nanofabrication techniques have revolutionized the pharmaceutical and medical fields as they offer the possibility for highly reproducible mass-fabrication of systems with complex geometries and functionalities, including novel drug delivery systems and bionsensors. The principal micro- and nanofabrication techniques are described, including photolithography, soft lithography, film deposition, etching, bonding, molecular self assembly, electrically induced nanopatterning, rapid prototyping, and electron, X-ray, colloidal monolayer, and focused ion beam lithography. Application of these techniques for the fabrication of drug delivery and biosensing systems including injectable, implantable, transdermal, and mucoadhesive devices is described.
PMCID: PMC2676643  PMID: 17722281
microfabrication; nanofabrication; medical devices; drug delivery; biosensors
20.  Selective Binding, Self-Assembly and Nanopatterning of the Creutz-Taube Ion on Surfaces 
The surface attachment properties of the Creutz-Taube ion, i.e., [(NH3)5Ru(pyrazine)Ru(NH3)5]5+, on both hydrophilic and hydrophobic types of surfaces were investigated using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The results indicated that the Creutz-Taube ions only bound to hydrophilic surfaces, such as SiO2 and –OH terminated organic SAMs on gold substrates. No attachment of the ions on hydrophobic surfaces such as –CH3 terminated organic SAMs and poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA) thin films covered gold or SiO2 substrates was observed. Further ellipsometric, atomic force microscopy (AFM) and time-dependent XPS studies suggested that the attached cations could form an inorganic analog of the self-assembled monolayer on SiO2 substrate with a “lying-down” orientation. The strong electrostatic interaction between the highly charged cations and the anionic SiO2 surface was believed to account for these observations. Based on its selective binding property, patterning of wide (∼200 nm) and narrow (∼35 nm) lines of the Creutz-Taube ions on SiO2 surface were demonstrated through PMMA electron resist masks written by electron beam lithography (EBL).
PMCID: PMC2660660  PMID: 19333420
Creutz-Taube ions; Surface; Hydrophilic; Hydrophobic; XPS; AFM; Self-assembled Monolayers; E-beam lithography; PMMA; Nanopatterning
21.  Effects of nanoimprinted patterns in tissue-culture polystyrene on cell behavior 
Tissue engineering seeks to develop functional tissues in a biomimetic environment in vitro. As the extracellular environment in vivo is composed of numerous nanostructures, fabrication of nanostructured substrates will be valuable for tissue engineering applications. In this article, we report a simple nanoimprint lithography (NIL) process to pattern nanostructures directly on tissue-culture polystyrene plates. By repeating this NIL process, three-dimensional scaffolds consisting of multiple-layer nanostructures were also fabricated. Bovine pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells were cultured on imprinted gratings ranging from 350 nm to 10 μm. The smooth muscle cells attached and proliferated well on these imprinted substrates without additional surface treatment. Cell elongation and alignment were observed on the micro- and nanopatterns, with the effect significantly more pronounced on the nanostructures.
PMCID: PMC2597796  PMID: 19079551
22.  Fabrication of porous silicon by metal-assisted etching using highly ordered gold nanoparticle arrays 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2012;7(1):450.
A simple method for the fabrication of porous silicon (Si) by metal-assisted etching was developed using gold nanoparticles as catalytic sites. The etching masks were prepared by spin-coating of colloidal gold nanoparticles onto Si. An appropriate functionalization of the gold nanoparticle surface prior to the deposition step enabled the formation of quasi-hexagonally ordered arrays by self-assembly which were translated into an array of pores by subsequent etching in HF solution containing H2O2. The quality of the pattern transfer depended on the chosen preparation conditions for the gold nanoparticle etching mask. The influence of the Si surface properties was investigated by using either hydrophilic or hydrophobic Si substrates resulting from piranha solution or HF treatment, respectively. The polymer-coated gold nanoparticles had to be thermally treated in order to provide a direct contact at the metal/Si interface which is required for the following metal-assisted etching. Plasma treatment as well as flame annealing was successfully applied. The best results were obtained for Si substrates which were flame annealed in order to remove the polymer matrix - independent of the substrate surface properties prior to spin-coating (hydrophilic or hydrophobic). The presented method opens up new resources for the fabrication of porous silicon by metal-assisted etching. Here, a vast variety of metal nanoparticles accessible by well-established wet-chemical synthesis can be employed for the fabrication of the etching masks.
PMCID: PMC3463426  PMID: 22876790
Porous silicon; Nanolithography; Gold nanoparticles; Self-assembly; Metal-assisted etching; 81.05.Rm; 81.16.Nd; 81.65.Cf
23.  Substrate-mediated effects in photothermal patterning of alkanethiol self-assembled monolayers with microfocused continuous-wave lasers 
In recent years, self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) have been demonstrated to provide promising new approaches to nonlinear laser processing. Most notably, because of their ultrathin nature, indirect excitation mechanisms can be exploited in order to fabricate subwavelength structures. In photothermal processing, for example, microfocused lasers are used to locally heat the substrate surface and initiate desorption or decomposition of the coating. Because of the strongly temperature-dependent desorption kinetics, the overall process is highly nonlinear in the applied laser power. For this reason, subwavelength patterning is feasible employing ordinary continuous-wave lasers. The lateral resolution, generally, depends on both the type of the organic monolayer and the nature of the substrate. In previous studies we reported on photothermal patterning of distinct types of SAMs on Si supports. In this contribution, a systematic study on the impact of the substrate is presented. Alkanethiol SAMs on Au-coated glass and silicon substrates were patterned by using a microfocused laser beam at a wavelength of 532 nm. Temperature calculations and thermokinetic simulations were carried out in order to clarify the processes that determine the performance of the patterning technique. Because of the strongly temperature-dependent thermal conductivity of Si, surface-temperature profiles on Au/Si substrates are very narrow ensuring a particularly high lateral resolution. At a 1/e spot diameter of 2 µm, fabrication of subwavelength structures with diameters of 300–400 nm is feasible. Rapid heat dissipation, though, requires high laser powers. In contrast, patterning of SAMs on Au/glass substrates is strongly affected by the largely distinct heat conduction within the Au film and in the glass support. This results in broad surface temperature profiles. Hence, minimum structure sizes are larger when compared with respective values on Au/Si substrates. The required laser powers, though, are more than one order of magnitude lower. Also, the laser power needed for patterning decreases with decreasing Au layer thickness. These results demonstrate the impact of the substrate on the overall patterning process and provide new perspectives in photothermal laser patterning of ultrathin organic coatings.
PMCID: PMC3304314  PMID: 22428098
femtosecond lasers; nonlinear laser processing; self-assembled monolayers; subwavelength patterning; ultrathin resists
24.  Micro-macro hybrid soft-lithography master (MMHSM) fabrication for lab-on-a-chip applications 
Biomedical microdevices  2010;12(2):345-351.
We present a novel micro-macro hybrid soft-lithography master (MMHSM) fabrication technique where microdevices having both microscale and macroscale features can be replicated with a single soft-lithography step. A poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) master having macroscale structures was first created by a bench-top milling machine. An imprinting master mold having micro-scale structures was then imprinted on the PMMA surface through a hot-embossing process to obtain a PMMA master mold. A poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) master was then replicated from this PMMA master through a standard soft-lithography process. This process allowed both microscale (height: 3–20 μm, width: 20–500 μm) and macroscale (height: 3.5 mm, width: 1.2–7 mm) structures to co-exist on the PDMS master mold, from which final PDMS devices could be easily stamped out in large quantities. Microfluidic structures requiring macroscale dimensions in height, such as reservoirs or fluidic tubing interconnects, could be directly built into PDMS microfluidic devices without the typically used manual punching process. This significantly reduced alignment errors and time required for such manual fabrication steps. In this paper, we successfully demonstrated the utility of this novel hybrid fabrication method by fabricating a PDMS microfluidic device with 40 built-in fluidic interfaces and a PDMS multi-compartment neuron co-culture platform, where millimeter-scale compartments are connected via arrays of 20 μm wide and 200 μm long microfluidic channels. The resulting structures were characterized for the integrity of the transferred pattern sizes and the surface roughness using scanning electron microscopy and optical profilometry.
PMCID: PMC2864814  PMID: 20049640
Soft-lithography; Fluidic interface; PDMS; Cast molding
25.  Large-scale fabrication of nanopatterned sapphire substrates by annealing of patterned Al thin films by soft UV-nanoimprint lithography 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2013;8(1):472.
Large-scale nanopatterned sapphire substrates were fabricated by annealing of patterned Al thin films. Patterned Al thin films were obtained by soft UV-nanoimprint lithography and reactive ion etching. The soft mold with 550-nm-wide lines separated by 250-nm space was composed of the toluene-diluted polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) layer supported by the soft PDMS. Patterned Al thin films were subsequently subjected to dual-stage annealing due to the melting temperature of Al thin films (660°C). The first comprised a low-temperature oxidation anneal at 450°C for 24 h. This was followed by a high-temperature annealing in the range of 1,000°C and 1,200°C for 1 h to induce growth of the underlying sapphire single crystal to consume the oxide layer. The SEM results indicate that the patterns were retained on sapphire substrates after high-temperature annealing at less than 1,200°C. Finally, large-scale nanopatterned sapphire substrates were successfully fabricated by annealing of patterned Al thin films for 24 h at 450°C and 1 h at 1,000°C by soft UV-nanoimprint lithography.
PMCID: PMC4225748  PMID: 24215718
Al; Annealing; Patterned sapphire substrates; UV-nanoimprint lithography; Reactive ion etching

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