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Candy-like combination can print patterns on microscopic objects

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


24 November 2022

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

Gary Zabow/National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

A sugar combination just like exhausting sweet studded with tiny steel 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 give microscopic robots or small digital circuits extra performance, researchers typically embellish their surfaces with patterns of even tinier objects, resembling magnets. They typically make these elements on a flat, clear floor after which stamp them onto the larger object.

But precisely making use of them on this method turns into tough when the receiving objects usually are not easy, says Gary Zabow on the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Colorado. He labored out learn how to use sugar and corn syrup so as to add micropatterns to even essentially the most irregular and jagged objects.

He first organized micron-sized discs and rings of silver or platinum right into a sample, resembling an array or a letter, after which poured a heat combination of sugar and corn syrup over it. Adding corn prevents the sugar from crystallising and disrupting the sample. The elements obtained caught within the combination because it solidified into one thing just like exhausting sweet. Zabow then put this hardened combination on the item he wished to sample and re-heated it, so it unfold and wrapped across the object beneath it – like a Jolly Rancher exhausting sweet melting within the sun. Finally, he dissolved the sugar combination with water, and solely the elements that have been caught inside it remained on the item’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 tactic on objects starting from micron-sized steel cubes and glass beads to grains of pollen, particular person hairs and crimson blood cells. He says that as a result of sugar will not be poisonous, this technique might probably be used for manufacturing microrobots and nanoparticles that enter the human physique in biomedicine.

Cunjiang Yu at Pennsylvania State University says that the tactic works higher than many present strategies 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 purposes, he says.

This sort of micropatterning continues to be in its infancy, and Zabow desires different researchers to attempt it out. “I hope that other people will think of things that I haven’t yet thought to try. It seems to be fairly easy to experiment further – you just take a Jolly Rancher candy, and it works,” he says.

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

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