Bubble-Pen Lithography

Current lithography techniques, which employ photon, electron, or ion beams to induce chemical or physical reactions for micro/nano-fabrication, have remained challenging in patterning chemically synthesized colloidal particles, which are emerging as building blocks for functional devices. Herein, we develop a new technique - bubble-pen lithography (BPL) - to pattern colloidal particles on substrates using optically controlled microbubbles. Briefly, a single laser beam generates a microbubble at the interface of colloidal suspension and a plasmonic substrate via plasmon-enhanced photothermal effects. The microbubble captures and immobilizes the colloidal particles on the substrate through coordinated actions of Marangoni convection, surface tension, gas pressure, and substrate adhesion. Through directing the laser beam to move the microbubble, we create arbitrary single-particle patterns and particle assemblies with different resolutions and architectures. Furthermore, we have applied BPL to pattern CdSe/ZnS quantum dots on plasmonic substrates and polystyrene (PS) microparticles on two-dimensional (2D) atomic-layer materials. With the low-power operation, arbitrary patterning and applicability to general colloidal particles, BPL will find a wide range of applications in microelectronics, nanophotonics, and nanomedicine.