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Sci & Tech

Micropatterning: Sweet-like combination can print patterns on microscopic objects


Patterns of microscopic discs, rings or letters may be added to microrobots or stretchy electronics with a dissolved sugar combination



Physics



24 November 2022

Grains of pollen which have had microscopic discs deposited onto them with a candy-like substance

Gary Zabow/Nationwide Institute of Requirements and Know-how (NIST)

A sugar combination just like onerous sweet studded with tiny metallic discs or rings has been used to deposit patterns onto microscopic objects. This technique of making texture on small objects might be helpful for biomedical robots or versatile electronics.

To present microscopic robots or small digital circuits extra performance, researchers typically embellish their surfaces with patterns of even tinier objects, reminiscent of magnets. They typically make these elements on a flat, clear floor after which stamp them onto the larger object.

However precisely making use of them on this means turns into troublesome when the receiving objects are usually not clean, says Gary Zabow on the Nationwide Institute of Requirements and Know-how in Colorado. He labored out easy methods to use sugar and corn syrup so as to add micropatterns to even probably the most irregular and jagged objects.

He first organized micron-sized discs and rings of silver or platinum right into a sample, reminiscent of an array or a letter, after which poured a heat combination of sugar and corn syrup over it. Including corn prevents the sugar from crystallising and disrupting the sample. The elements acquired caught within the combination because it solidified into one thing just like onerous sweet. Zabow then put this hardened combination on the thing he needed to sample and re-heated it, so it unfold and wrapped across the object beneath it – like a Jolly Rancher onerous sweet melting within the solar. Lastly, he dissolved the sugar combination with water, and solely the elements that have been caught inside it remained on the thing’s floor.

Credit to Gary Zabow/NIST, the yellow if false color, and the image shows "show SEMs of 0.5-?m-thick, 1-?m-diameter Au disks and of 30-nm-thick Au lettering, respectively, transferred onto individual strands of hair."

False-colour picture of letters product of gold that have been transferred onto a strand of hair

Gary Zabow/NIST

Zabow examined the strategy on objects starting from micron-sized metallic cubes and glass beads to grains of pollen, particular person hairs and pink blood cells. He says that as a result of sugar shouldn’t be poisonous, this technique might doubtlessly be used for manufacturing microrobots and nanoparticles that enter the human physique in biomedicine.

Cunjiang Yu at Pennsylvania State College says that the strategy works higher than many present methods for patterning very small objects. It might be a superb match for making flexible electronics that may be built-in into organic tissues or wearables, amongst many different functions, he says.

This type of micropatterning remains to be in its infancy, and Zabow needs different researchers to strive it out. “I hope that different individuals will consider issues that I haven’t but thought to strive. It appears to be pretty straightforward to experiment additional – you simply take a Jolly Rancher sweet, and it really works,” he says.

Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.add7023

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