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ACS Nano. 2013 Jul 23;7(7):6079-85. doi: 10.1021/nn401885f. Epub 2013 Jun 6.

Drying-mediated assembly of colloidal nanoparticles into large-scale microchannels.

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  • 1School of Materials Science and Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA.


Large-scale highly ordered microchannels were spontaneously and rapidly created by simply drying the colloidal nanoparticle suspension on a rigid substrate. Interestingly, free evaporation of colloidal suspension yielded radially aligned microchannels, while constrained evaporation that was rendered by the use of confined geometries composed of either two nearly parallel plates or a slide placed perpendicular to a rigid substrate imparted the formation of periodic arrays of parallel microchannels in a controllable manner. The microchannels were formed as a result of the competition between stress relaxation due to crack opening that ruptured the film and stress increase due to the loss of solvent. Quite intriguingly, these patterned microchannels can be exploited as templates to craft well-ordered metallic stripes. This facile and scalable approach may offer a new paradigm of producing microscopic patterns over large areas with unprecedented regularity at low cost that can serve as scaffolds for use in microelectronics and microfluidic-based biochips, among other areas.

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