Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new nanolithography technique that is less expensive than other approaches and can be used to create technologies with biomedical applications.

The new technique relies on cantilevers, which are 150-micron long silicon strips. The cantilevers can be tipped with spheres made of polymer or with naturally occurring spores. The spheres and spores are coated with ink and dried. The spheres and spores are absorbent and will soak up water when exposed to increased humidity.

As a result, when the cantilevers are exposed to humidity in a chamber, the spheres and spores absorb water – making the tips of the cantilevers heavier and dragging them down into contact with any chosen surface.

Users can manipulate the size of the spheres and spores, which allows them to control the patterns created by the cantilevers. For example, at low humidity, a large sphere will absorb more water than a small sphere, and will therefore be dragged down into contact with the substrate surface. The small sphere won’t be lowered into contact with the surface until it is exposed to higher humidity and absorbs more water.

Further, the differing characteristics of sphere polymers and spores mean that they absorb different amounts of water when exposed to the same humidity – giving users even more control of the nanolithography.

This story is reprinted from material from North Carolina State University, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.