Liquid deposition patterning of conducting polymer ink onto hard and soft flexible substrates via dip-pen nanolithography
Ink formulations and protocols that enable the deposition and patterning of a conducting polymer (PEDOT: PSS) in the nanodomain have been developed. Significantly, we demonstrated the ability to pattern onto soft substrates such as silicone gum and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which are materials of interest for low cost, flexible electronics. The deposition process and dimensions of the polymer patterns are found to be critically dependent on a number of parameters, including the pen design, ink properties, time after inking the pen, dwell time of the pen on the surface, and the nature of material substrate. By assessing these different parameters, an improved understanding of the ability to control the dimensions of individual PEDOT:PSS structures down to 600 nm in width and 10-80 nm in height within patterned arrays was obtained. This applicability of DPN for simple and nonreactive liquid deposition patterning of conducting polymers can lead to the fabrication of organic nanoelectronics or biosensors and complement the efforts of existing printing techniques such as inkjet and extrusion printing by scaling down conductive components to submicrometer and nanoscale dimensions.