Send to

Choose Destination
ACS Nano. 2019 Jan 22;13(1):8-17. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.8b08185. Epub 2018 Dec 18.

Nanocombinatorics with Cantilever-Free Scanning Probe Arrays.

Author information

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Division of Materials Science & Engineering, and Physics Department , Boston University , 110 Cummington Mall , Boston , Massachusetts 02215 , United States.


The effectiveness of combinatorial experiments is determined by the rate at which distinct experimental conditions can be prepared and interrogated. This has been particularly limiting at the intersection of nanotechnology and soft materials research, where structures are difficult to reliably prepare and materials are incompatible with conventional lithographic techniques. For example, studying nanoparticle-based heterogeneous catalysis or the interaction between biological cells and abiotic surfaces requires precise tuning of materials composition on the nanometer scale. Scanning probe techniques are poised to be major players in the combinatorial nanoscience arena because they allow one to directly deposit materials at high resolution without any harsh processing steps that limit material compatibility. The chief limitation of scanning probe techniques is throughput, as patterning with single probes is prohibitively slow in the context of large-scale combinatorial experiments. A recent paradigm shift circumvents this problem by fundamentally altering the architecture of scanning probes by replacing the conventionally used cantilever with a soft compliant film on a rigid substrate, a substitution that allows a densely packed array of probes to function in parallel in an inexpensive format. This is a major lithographic advance in terms of scalability, throughput, and versatility that, when combined with the development of approaches to actuate individual probes in cantilever-free arrays, sets the stage for scanning-probe-based tools to address scientific questions through nanocombinatorial studies in biology and materials science. In this review, we outline the development of cantilever-free scanning probe lithography and prospects for nanocombinatorial studies enabled by these tools.


cantilever-free; catalytic screening; combinatorial synthesis; hard and soft material deposition; molecular printing; nanocombinatorics; nanofabrication; nanolithography; nanoscience; polymer pen lithography; scanning probe lithography


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Chemical Society
Loading ...
Support Center