Apr 24, 2018 | By David

Researchers at City University New York (CUNY) have recently developed a new nano-printing method for organic material. The team, consisting of researchers from the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) and Hunter College, made use of microfluidics and photochemistry to improve the tip-based lithography technique. This is one of the best methods for creating bio-chips at the nano-scale, but it was previously limited to printing one molecule at a time. The CUNY researchers have expanded the possibilities for tip-based lithography, and their work could revolutionize the way bio-chips are made.

Tip-based lithography (TBL) is a technique for printing organic material on the surface of a chip. It redirects high-energy light beams, which would ordinarily denature soft organic matter, into arrays. This makes the energy useful for reshaping the material.

The CUNY researchers’ new approach uses micro-fluidics equipment to control fluids at the molecular level, as well as a technique called beam-pen lithography. Beam-pen lithography involves the building of an array of polymer pyramids, which are then covered in gold and mounted onto an atomic force microscope. Each array has an area of around one square centimetre, and contains many thousands of pyramids. Holes are placed in the pyramids such that light goes only to specific places on the surface of a chip below, immobilizing the delicate organic reagents on the chip’s surface without damaging them.

The scientists can then re-use the same organic material and add more molecules on to the same chip without damaging the ones that are already printed. For the purposes of the research, the scientists attempted to optimize the thiol-ene reaction, and analyze its reaction kinetics. They also created several patterns containing multiple fluorescent alkenes, where each pattern was designed to demonstrate a different capability of the instrument.

The new multiplexing ability makes the printing of bio-chips much cheaper and more efficient. Also contributing to the reduction in cost, is the ability to carry out the process in regular lab conditions.

''This is essentially a new nanoscale printer that allows us to imprint more complexity on the surface of biochip than any of the currently available commercial technologies,'' said Adam Braunschweig, lead researcher and associate professor with the ASRC’s Nanoscience Initiative. ''It will help us to gain much better understanding of how cells and biological pathways work.''

Biochips can be used to screen for and analyze biological changes associated with disease development, bioterrorism agents, and other areas of research that involve biological components. The CUNY researchers’ new technique for 3D printing bio-chips is more versatile than any other nano-printing method developed so far. This means that it will be possible to print on a wider range of materials, including glasses, metals, and lipids, with a regular desktop scientific instrument. The team also predict potential applications in genetic research.

(source: Spectrum.ieee)

The results of the research were detailed in an article entitled ''Massively Multiplexed Tip-Based Photochemical Lithography under Continuous Capillary Flow'' in the journal Chem. The authors were Carlos Carbonell, Daniel J. Valles, Alexa M. Wong, Mei Wai Tsui, Moussa Niang, and Adam B. Braunschweig.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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