Direct-write maskless lithography of LBL nanocomposite films and its prospects for MEMS technologies

  • Bai Y
  • Ho S
  • Kotov N
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Application of nanocomposites in MEMS, flexible electronics, and biomedical devices is likely to demonstrate new performance standards and resolve a number of difficult technical problems enabled by the unique combinations of electrical, optical, and mechanical properties. This study explores the possibility of making microscale nanocomposite patterns using the fusion of two highly versatile techniques: direct-write maskless UV patterning and layer-by-layer assembly (LBL). Together they can be applied to the production of a wide variety of nanostructured coatings with complex patterns. Single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) and gold nanoparticle LBL nanocomposites assembled with chitosan (CH) were made into prototypical patterns such as concentric helices and bus-line-and-stimulation-pads (BLASPs) used in flexible antennas and neuroprosthetic devices. The spatial resolution of the technique was established with the standard line grids to be at least 1 μm. Gold nanoparticle films revealed better accuracy and higher resolution in direct-write patterning than SWNT composites, possibly due to the granular rather than fibrous nature of the composites. The conductivity of the patterned composites was 6.45 × 10(-5)Ω m and 3.80 × 10(-6)Ω m at 20 °C for nanotube and nanoparticle composites, respectively; in both cases it exceeds electrical parameters of similar composites. Fundamental and technological prospects of nanocomposite MEMS devices in different areas including implantable biomedical, sensing, and optical devices are discussed.

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