A novel design strategy for nanoparticles on nanopatterns: interferometric lithographic patterning of Mms6 biotemplated magnetic nanoparticles
Nanotechnology demands the synthesis of highly precise, functional materials, tailored for specific applications. One such example is bit patterned media. These high-density magnetic data-storage materials require specific and uniform magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) to be patterned over large areas (cm2 range) in exact nanoscale arrays. However, the realisation of such materials for nanotechnology applications depends upon reproducible fabrication methods that are both precise and environmentally-friendly, for cost-effective scale-up. A potentially ideal biological fabrication methodology is biomineralisation. This is the formation of inorganic minerals within organisms, and is known to be highly controlled down to the nanoscale whilst being carried out under ambient conditions. The magnetotactic bacterium Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 uses a suite of dedicated biomineralisation proteins to control the formation of magnetite MNPs within their cell. One of these proteins, Mms6, has been shown to control formation of magnetite MNPs in vitro. We have previously used Mms6 on micro-contact printed (μCP) patterned self-assembled monolayer (SAM) surfaces to control the formation and location of MNPs in microscale arrays, offering a bioinspired and green-route to fabrication. However, μCP cannot produce patterns reliably with nanoscale dimensions, and most alternative nanofabrication techniques are slow and expensive. Interferometric lithography (IL) uses the interference of laser light to produce nanostructures over large areas via a simple process implemented under ambient conditions. Here we combine the bottom-up biomediated approach with a top down IL methodology to produce arrays of uniform magnetite MNPs (86 ± 21 nm) with a period of 357 nm. This shows a potentially revolutionary strategy for the production of magnetic arrays with nanoscale precision in a process with low environmental impact, which could be scaled readily to facilitate large-scale production of nanopatterned surface materials for technological applications.