This paper describes three advances in lab on a chip technology. First, it is shown that chemomechanical surface patterning can be performed using a commercially available liquid handler that has undergone only minor modifications. These capabilities are demonstrated by making and then characterizing smaller hydrophobic corrals, made with a diamond tip, than have previously been reported. Hydrophobic corrals are small enclosures on a surface that are ringed by hydrophobic lines. They hold droplets of high surface tension solutions. They allow a surface to be subdivided into individually addressable elements, thus providing a platform for conducting many simultaneous surface experiments with small (down to ca. 1 µL) liquid volumes. An important consequence of this work is that it makes chemomechanical surface patterning, which is a valuable and straightforward method for surface modification, much more accessible to the technical community. Second, it is shown that an entire array of hydrophobic corrals can be simultaneously coated with polyelectrolyte multilayers, but that the hydrophobic corrals still retain the ability to hold liquids after this deposition. The robotic arm of the liquid handler is again employed to manufacture this ultrathin film. Finally, as a demonstration of the capability of this technology to create complex patterned arrays on surfaces from solution for biological or nanostructured materials applications, and again employing the liquid handler, polyelectrolyte-coated hydrophobic corrals are individually addressed and loaded with a solution containing gold nanoparticles for independently specified times. The density and morphology of deposited nanoparticle monolayers were studied by scanning electron microscopy. The deposition of gold nanoparticles onto a chip occurred at a constant rate (0.5% min−1) over the range of times studied.
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