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From a two-dimensional chemical pattern to a three-dimensional topology through selective inversion of a liquid–liquid bilayer

Nature Materials volume 5, pages 957961 (2006) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Soft organic surfaces with more and more complex topologies are required daily to engineer appropriate microstructures for many different applications such as DNA array technology1, biological optics for advanced photonic systems2 and microfluidics3,4. Complementarily to conventional lithographic processes5,6, several pioneering methods have been developed recently, by controlling phase separation of polymer blends7,8, spinodal decomposition of homopolymers9,10 or by using the action of additional external forces driving diverse instabilities11,12. Here we present a method that not only provides original concepts towards the three-dimensional (3D) structuring of liquids, on the basis of the synergistic effects of molecular diffusion and confined nucleation, but also suggests original solutions for the transport, mixing and filtering of small volumes of liquid. Through the intrinsic destabilization of a liquid–liquid bilayer, the 2D pattern of a chemically structured surface with ‘hydrophilic’ and ‘hydrophobic’ domains is transferred to a solid/liquid interface as a 3D topography with either ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ replication. This easy-to-use process has potential applications in various technological realms requiring a specific topography at interfaces such as microfluidics or biosensors.

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Acknowledgements

We wish to thank D. Beysens, S. Dietrich, A. Jonas and G. Reiter for fruitful discussions. This work was supported by the Belgian National Funds for Scientific Research (FNRS), the Government of the Region of Wallonia (CORRONET Research Programme) and the European Commission (Phasing out, MateriaNova). P.D. is a research Associate of the FNRS.

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Affiliations

  1. Laboratoire de Physicochimie des Polymères, Université de Mons Hainaut, 20, Place du Parc, Mons, B-7000, Belgium

    • Julien Léopoldès
    •  & Pascal Damman

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Julien Léopoldès or Pascal Damman.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat1787

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