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Directed Assembly of Nanoparticles along Predictable Large-Scale Patterns Using Micromolded Hydrogels

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posted on 07.06.2011, 00:00 by Qihao He, Fabrice Sévérac, Houssam Hajjoul, Yannick Viero, Aurélien Bancaud
We present a new technology to organize microparticles and nanoparticles along micropatterns of variable complexity over centimeter-squared surfaces. This technology relies on the fabrication of textured hydrogels, which serve as templates for directed assembly after the deposition of a droplet of colloids on their surfaces. We show that directed assembly occurs spontaneously during water evaporation, and we demonstrate the efficiency of this mechanism for a variety of organic and inorganic nano-objects. The dynamics of this process is also uncovered by light microscopy, showing that the patterns imprinted on the gel determine fluid flow during water evaporation and allow for directed movements toward predictable positions. We finally propose different methods to transfer assembled particles from hydrogels to glass, silicon, or metallic surfaces, and we show that the assembled and transferred particles retain their surface properties for bioassays. Beyond the originality of this spontaneous assembly mechanism, it constitutes an attractive technology for nano-object large-scale integration, which does not require costly environmental control equipment.