Controlling the shape of 3D microstructures by temperature and light

  • Author:

    M. Hippler, E. Blasco, J. Qu, M. Tanaka, C. Barner-Kowollik, M. Wegener, and M. Bastmeyer

  • Source:

    Nat. Commun. 10, 232 (2019)

  • Date: 16.1.2019
  • Abstract:

    Stimuli-responsive microstructures are critical to create adaptable systems in soft robotics and biosciences. For such applications, the materials must be compatible with aqueous environments and enable the manufacturing of three-dimensional structures. Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (pNIPAM) is a well-established polymer, exhibiting a substantial response to changes in temperature close to its lower critical solution temperature. To create complex actuation patterns, materials that react differently with respect to a stimulus are required. Here, we introduce functional three-dimensional hetero-microstructures based on pNIPAM. By variation of the local exposure dose in three-dimensional laser lithography, we demonstrate that the material parameters can be altered on demand in a single resist formulation. We explore this concept for sophisticated three-dimensional architectures with large-amplitude and complex responses. The experimental results are consistent with numerical calculations, able to predict the actuation response. Furthermore, a spatially controlled response is achieved by inducing a local temperature increase by two-photon absorption of focused light.