Micro-contact printing, μCP, is a well-established soft-lithography technique for printing biomolecules. μCP uses stamps made of Poly(dimethylsiloxane), PDMS, made by replicating a microstructured silicon master fabricated by semiconductor manufacturing processes. One of the problems of the μCP is the difficult control of the printing process, which, because of the high compressibility of PDMS, is very sensitive to minute changes in the applied pressure. This over-sensitive response leads to frequent and/or uncontrollable collapse of the stamps with high aspect ratios, thus decreasing the printing accuracy and reproducibility. Here we present a straightforward methodology of designing and fabricating PDMS structures with an architecture which uses the collapse of the stamp to reduce, rather than enlarge the variability of the printing. The PDMS stamp, organized as an array of pyramidal micro-posts, whose ceiling collapses when pressed on a flat surface, replicates the structure of the silicon master fabricated by anisotropic wet etching. Upon application of pressure, depending on the size of, and the pitch between, the PDMS pyramids, an air gap is formed surrounding either the entire array, or individual posts. The printing technology, which also exhibits a remarkably low background noise for fluorescence detection, may find applications when the clear demarcation of the shapes of protein patterns and the distance between them are critical, such as microarrays and studies of cell patterning.

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BµF Team