Programming Reaction-Diffusion: From Theory to Micro- and Nanofabrication

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Nature often uses reaction-diffusion(RD) as a means of making structures and materials of unique properties or morphologies on scales from macro- (e.g., stripes in zebras, tigers, and seashells, and formations in trees, agates, and rocks) to microscopic (e.g., cellular growth, chemotaxis and biological waves). However, reaction-diffusion phenomena have not yet been applied in modern materials science and micro-/nanotechnology. In this context, RD systems are particularly promising for micropatterning of surfaces. Unlike conventional micropatterning techniques that modify the properties of the substrate only at the locations to which a modifying agent - be it a chemical or radiation - is delivered, RD can, in principle, evolve chemicals delivered onto a surface into structures of characteristic dimensions significantly smaller than those of the original pattern. In this Dissertation, I describe how reaction-diffusions are programmed and executed via a new micropatterning technique called Wet Stamping to (i) transform microscopic patterns of chemicals delivered onto thin films of dry gelatin into regular arrays of lines of submicrometer thicknesses, multicolor arrays on the micrometer scale, or three-dimensional microstructured surfaces; (ii) modify the properties of a surface by precisely delivering an oxidant to change hydrophilicity or deliver silanes or thiols to build a self-assembling monolayer; or (iii) cut into a metal, glass, or crystal surface by delivery of an etchant to form binary and curvilinear three-dimensional microstructures. This technique has allowed for a fundamental understanding and control of reaction-diffusion processes down to the nanoscale. In addition, this platform has allowed for the development of a range of applications on the micro- and nanoscale, including microlenses, microfluidic devices, and templates for studying cell motility and cancer metastasis.

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  • 06/26/2018
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