Thermochemical Nanolithography (TCNL)

In collaboration with Georgia Tech researchers Elisa Riedo, Seth Marder, and Bill King at UIUC, we are developing a versatile high-speed chemical nanopatterning technique called Thermochemical Nanolithography (TCNL). Using a heated AFM tip, TCNL works by deprotecting active chemical groups in a polymer film, such as amines or carboxyl groups. Chemical features as small as 15 nm have been achieved and can then be covalently linked to nanoobjects, in particular, proteins, DNA, and nanoparticles. Our recent work has demonstrated that successive TCNL patterning combined with post-chemical processing of the deprotected groups can be used to pattern two protein species in arbitrary locations on a surface.

Our current work focuses on optimizing TCNL to increase feature resolution, to control the number of bound proteins and their density at a given site, to quantify the efficiency of the nanochemical reaction at the AFM tip, to generate well-defined gradients of chemical species, and to passivate the surface between the nanopatterned areas for future cell-interface studies.