Nanoparticle printing with single-particle resolution

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Bulk syntheses of colloids efficiently produce nanoparticles with unique and useful properties. Their integration onto surfaces is a prerequisite for exploiting these properties in practice. Ideally, the integration would be compatible with a variety of surfaces and particles, while also enabling the fabrication of large areas and arbitrarily high-accuracy patterns. Whereas printing routinely meets these demands at larger length scales, we have developed a novel printing process that enables positioning of sub-100-nm particles individually with high placement accuracy. A colloidal suspension is inked directly onto printing plates, whose wetting properties and geometry ensure that the nanoparticles only fill predefined topographical features. The dry particle assembly is subsequently printed from the plate onto plain substrates through tailored adhesion. We demonstrate that the process can create a variety of particle arrangements including lines, arrays and bitmaps, while preserving the catalytic and optical activity of the individual nanoparticles.

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Figure 1: From traditional gravure printing to high-resolution particle printing.
Figure 2: Particles arranged on printing plates after inking.
Figure 3: The inking process that arranges the particles.
Figure 4: Particle structures printed on unpatterned Si substrates.
Figure 5: Demonstration of the activity of printed particles.


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We thank U. Drechsler for her support in microfabrication as well as R. Stutz and M. Tschudy for their technical support. A part of this project was funded by the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation. The partial support of the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) in the framework of the EC-funded project NaPa (Contract No. NMP4-CT-2003-500120) is gratefully acknowledged. The content of this work is the sole responsibility of the authors. We thank P. Seidler for his continuous support.

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Correspondence to Laurent Malaquin or Heiko Wolf.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Kraus, T., Malaquin, L., Schmid, H. et al. Nanoparticle printing with single-particle resolution. Nature Nanotech 2, 570–576 (2007) doi:10.1038/nnano.2007.262

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