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Nano-Scale Embossing Mass Replicates Patterns Using Shrinky Dinks

SpecialChem / Aug 26, 2010

A team of nano-scientists from Northwestern University have developed an inexpensive way of mass-producing large-area patterns on nano-scale using 'shrinky dinks', a kind of flexible plastic sheet made of polystyrene. Technically known as solvent-assisted nano-scale embossing (SANE), the method can easily control a pattern size and symmetry, thus producing its millions of copies over a large area. The prototype arbitrary patterns can be reproduced over six-inch wafers for less than $100. In single step, SANE can create new nano-scale masters with varied spacings and feature sizes. Spacing of patterns can be stretched up to 100% and shrinked by heating the polymer substrate up to 50%; by controlled swelling of patterned polymer molds in different solvents, SANE can also reduce critical feature sizes. The method is said to have the potential to manipulate the electronic, photonic and magnetic properties of nano-materials used in devices, such as solar cells, high-density displays, computers, and chemical & biological sensors.

Shrinky dinks are a children's toy/activity kit made of large flexible sheets, which, when heated in an oven, shrink to small hard plates without altering their color or shape. Any sheets marked with code 6/PS can be reused as DIY shrink sheets. Code 6 plastic is common in packaging, and it can be easily recycled from discarded containers. When heated in an oven or with a heat gun, the plastic shrinks by about 5/8th and becomes thicker and more rigid, while retaining the colored design.

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