Fabrication of molecular nanopatterns at aluminium oxide surfaces by nanoshaving of self-assembled monolayers of alkylphosphonates
Nanoshaving, by tracing an atomic force microscope probe across a surface at elevated load, has been used to fabricate nanostructures in self-assembled monolayers of alkylphosphonates adsorbed at aluminium oxide surfaces. The simple process is implemented under ambient conditions. Because of the strong bond between the alkylphosphonates and the oxide surface, loads in excess of 400 nN are required to pattern the monolayer. Following patterning of octadecylphosphonate SAMs, adsorption of aminobutyl phosphonate yielded features as small as 39 nm. Shaving of monolayers of aryl azide-terminated alkylphosphonates, followed by attachment of polyethylene glycol to unmodified regions in a photochemical coupling reaction, yielded 102 nm trenches into which NeutrAvidin coated, dye-labelled, polymer nanospheres could be deposited, yielding bright fluorescence with little evidence of non-specific adsorption to other regions of the surface. Structures formed in alkylphosphonate films by nanoshaving were used to etch structures into the underlying metal. Because of the isotropic nature of the etch process, and the large grain size, some broadening was observed, but features 25–35 nm deep and 180 nm wide were fabricated.