A benchtop method for the fabrication and patterning of nanoscale structures on polymers.
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A benchtop method for the facile production of nanoscale metal structures on polymers is demonstrated. This approach allows for the design and patterning of a wide range of metallic structures on inexpensive polymer surfaces, affording the fabrication of nanoscaled platforms for use in the design of sensors, actuators, and disposable electronic and photonic devices. Numerous structures, from simple nanowires to multilayered metallic gratings, are demonstrated, with sizes ranging from microns to the nanoscale. The process involves molding a malleable metal film deposited on a rigid substrate such as mica, by the compression of a plastic polymer stamp with the desired pattern against the metal film. While under compression, an etchant is then used to modify the metal. Upon separation of the stamp from the support, micro- to nanoscaled metallic structures are found on the stamp and/or on the substrate. The sizes of the structures formed depend on the sizes of the features on the stamp but can be fine-tuned by about 4-fold through variations in both pressure and duration of etching. Also, depending on the processing, multiple dimension metallic structures can be obtained simultaneously in a single stamping procedure. The metallic structures formed on the stamp can also be subsequently transferred to another surface allowing for the construction of multilayered materials such as band gap gratings or the application of electrical contacts. Using this approach, fabrication of both simple and complex micro- to nanoscaled structures can be accomplished by most any researcher as even the grating structure of commercial compact disks may be used as stamps, eliminating the requirement of expensive lithographic processes to form simple structures.