Building 3D Nanostructured Devices by Self-Assembly

  • Steve Hu
  • Jeong-Hyun Cho
  • David H. Gracias


It is extremely challenging to create 3D nanostructured devices using conventional lithographic processing. Lithographic patterning techniques such as imprint or electron beam lithography allow precise structuring, but can only be implemented in an inherently 2D manner. It is also challenging to translate 3D microscale patterning techniques such as stereolithography, direct writing, and two-photon machining down to the nanoscale. In a process that draws inspiration from biological assembly, scientists and engineers are seeking to construct nanostructured devices from the bottom-up. Apart from numerous elegant methods to grow nanostructures from atoms, the spontaneous or directed assembly of ordered nanostructures from larger molecular or synthetic units provides an attractive route to create functional nanostructured devices. In this chapter, we focus on these self-assembling methods for bottom-up fabrication of 3D nanostructured devices. We review strategies to self-assemble molecular and synthetic devices. Molecular self-assembly with surfactants, peptides, proteins, and nucleotides provides considerable variability in terms of the different functional groups that can be utilized. However, since these structures are susceptible to fall apart at elevated temperatures and on dehydration, there is a need to develop alternative self-assembly methods using physical forces and with components such as metals, inorganic semiconductors, and dielectrics, especially for electronic and optical applications. We discuss these approaches with a focus on methods that enable the inclusion of precise patterns in all 3D and specifically on a more deterministic form of self-assembly that is often referred to as self-folding. Here, templates curve, bend, and fold spontaneously, thereby enabling 2D structures to be transformed into 3D structures. We review limitations and challenges associated with these self-assembly methodologies and future embodiments, such as enabling reconfigurability and machine-based function on the nanoscale.


Nanotechnology Self-folding Origami Self-assembly 



We wish to acknowledge financial support from the NSF (Grant CMMI-0854881) and the NIH (Grant DP2-OD004346). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC outside the People's Republic of China, Weilie Zhou and Zhong Lin Wang in the People's Republic of China 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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