Molding block copolymer micelles: A framework for molding of discrete objects on surfaces

Sherryl Y. Yu-Su, David R. Thomas, Jonathan E. Alford, Isaac LaRue, Marinos Pitsikalis, Nikos Hadjichristidis, Joseph M. DeSimone, Andrey V. Dobrynin, Sergei S. Sheiko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Soft lithography based on photocurable perfluoropolyether (PFPE) was used to mold and replicate poly(styreneb-isoprene) block-copolymer micelles within a broad range of shapes and sizes including spheres, cylinders, and torroids. These physically assembled nanoparticles were first formed in a selective solvent for one block then deposited onto substrates having various surface energies in an effort to minimize the deformation of the micelles due to attractive surface forces. The successful molding of these delicate nanoparticles underscores two advantages of PFPE as a molding material. First, it allows one to minimize particle deformation due to adsorption by using low energy substrates. Second, PFPE is not miscible with the organic micelles and thus prevents their dissociation. For spherical PS-b-PI micelles, a threshold value of the substrate surface energy for the mold to lift-off cleanly, that is, the particles remain adhered to the substrate after mold removal was determined to be around γ ≃ 54 mJ/m2. For substrates with higher surface energies (>54 mJ/m2), the micelles undergo flattening which increase the contact area and thus facilitate molding, although at the expense of particle deformation. The results are consistent with theoretical predictions of a molding range for substrate surface energies, which depends on the size, shape, and mechanical properties of the particles. In a similar fashion, cylindrical PS-b-PI micelles remain on the substrate at surface energies γ ≥ 54 mJ/m2 after a mold removal. However, cylindrical micelles behaved differently at lower surface energies. These micelles ruptured due to their inability to slide on the surfaces during mold lift-off. Thus, the successful molding of extended objects is attainable only when the particle is adsorbed on higher energy substrates where deformation can still be kept at a minimum by using stronger materials such as carbon nanotubes for the master.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12671-12679
Number of pages9
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 4 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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