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J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2007 Jun;7(6):1744-52.

Self-organized meso-patterning of soft solids by controlled adhesion: elastic contact lithography.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur 208016, India.


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, lambda approximately 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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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