One process used to produce nanoscopic structures like ever-smaller integrated circuits, biosensors, and gene chips is known as dip-pen nanolithography, in which the nanotip of an atomic force microscope is used to “write” a pattern directly on a substrate. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, a Korean research team led by Jung-Hyurk Lim at Chungju National University in Chungju have now introduced a refined nanotip for this technique. With their “nanoquill”, it is possible to produce complex nanopatterns from large biomolecules—such as complete virus particles—rapidly, precisely, and flexibly.
Direct-write dip-pen nanolithography (DPN) using a tip coated with nanoporous poly(2-methyl-2-oxazoline) allows the creation of precise patterns of large-sized biomaterials such as viruses. The hydrogel tip absorbs the virus-containing ink solution and atomic force microscopy is used to transport it to a surface
The researchers selected virus particles bound to a fluorescence dye as their ink. They were able to use this to produce patterns with more than 1000 individual nanodots without having to refill the quill. Unlike the conventional technique, increasing contact time between the surface and the tip of the quill increases the number of individual viruses within the dot, but not its diameter. However, the researchers were able to generate dots of various sizes (400, 200, and 80 nm) by varying the diameter of the tip. This variation can be quite easily controlled by the duration of the polymerization reaction.
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