The lamination of mechanically stiff structures to elastic materials is prevalent in biological systems and popular in many emerging synthetic systems, such as soft robotics, microfluidics, stretchable electronics, and pop‐up assemblies. The disparate mechanical and chemical properties of these materials have made it challenging to develop universal synthetic procedures capable of reliably adhering to these classes of materials together. Herein, a simple and scalable procedure is described that is capable of covalently laminating a variety of commodity (“off‐the‐shelf”) thermoplastic sheets to silicone rubber films. When combined with laser printing, the nonbonding sites can be “printed” onto the thermoplastic sheets, enabling the direct fabrication of microfluidic systems for actuation and liquid handling applications. The versatility of this approach in generating thin, multifunctional laminates is demonstrated through the fabrication of milliscale soft actuators and grippers with hinged articulation and microfluidic channels with built‐in optical filtering and pressure‐dependent geometries. This method of fabrication offers several advantages, including technical simplicity, process scalability, design versatility, and material diversity. The concepts and strategies presented herein are broadly applicable to the soft robotics, microfluidics, and advanced and additive manufacturing communities where hybrid rubber/plastic structures are prevalent.
It is challenging to find a conventional nanofabrication technique that can consistently produce soft polymeric matter of high surface area and nanoscale morphology in a way that is scalable, versatile, and easily tunable. Here, the capabilities of a universal method for fabricating diverse nano‐ and micro‐scale morphologies based on polymer precipitation templated by the fluid streamlines in multiphasic flow are explored. It is shown that while the procedure is operationally simple, various combinations of its intertwined mechanisms can controllably and reproducibly lead to the formation of an extraordinary wide range of colloidal morphologies. By systematically investigating the process conditions, 12 distinct classes of polymer micro‐ and nano‐structures including particles, rods, ribbons, nanosheets, and soft dendritic colloids (dendricolloids) are identified. The outcomes are interpreted by delineating the physical processes into three stages: hydrodynamic shear, capillary and mechanical breakup, and polymer precipitation rate. The insights into the underlying fundamental mechanisms provide guidance toward developing a versatile and scalable nanofabrication platform. It is verified that the liquid shear‐based technique is versatile and works well with many chemically diverse polymers and biopolymers, showing potential as a universal tool for simple and scalable nanofabrication of many morphologically distinct soft matter classes.
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Advanced Materials
- Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Diagnostic Tools > Biosensing