Nano-bio lab course: micro- printing and patterning

Editor’s note: Over the next several days, we will share the student impressions of some of the techniques learned in INBT’s nano-bio laboratory course (670.621). These reports demonstrate the wide variety of techniques students trained at the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology are expected to understand. Each technique is taught in a different affiliated faculty lab. More lab techniques to come.

Micro- printing and patterning

In this lab we learned the techniques associated with microcontact printing. A patterned wafer, like the ones created last week in photolithography, was used to create a PDMS stamp (PDMS is a type of silicone) with specific surface features according to our design. This stamp was then coated in proteins and used to transfer the pattern to a plasma cleaned glass microscope slide.

micropatternThis technique is of interest to me because it has the possibility to be incorporated into microfluidic devices. In our experiments we normally coat channels with fibronectin or collagen in order to increase cell adhesion to the surface. With the use of microcontact printing it may be possible to lay down specific proteins in much more precise locations in order to study the behavior of cells.

One drawback that may arise from trying to use microcontact printing in conjunction with a microfluidic device would be aligning the pattern of protein that was laid down with the pattern of the microfluidic device. Normally the PDMS of a device is plasma-bonded by hand to the glass slide, thus there is only as much precision as the eye. This would mean that the device would have to be general enough so that you could be sure you don’t overlap the patterns.

About the author: Jackson DeStefano is a first year PhD candidate in the laboratory of Peter Searson, professor of materials science and engineering.

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