Microscale, quasi-2D Au–polymer brush composite objects are fabricated by a versatile, controllable process based on microcontact printing followed by brush growth and etching of the substrate. These objects fold into 3D microstructures in response to a stimulus: crosslinked poly(glycidyl methacrylate) (PGMA) brushes fold on immersion in MeOH, and poly(methacryloxyethyl trimethylammonium chloride) (PMETAC) brushes fold on addition of salt. Microcages and microcontainers are fabricated. A multistep microcontact printing process is also used to create sheets of Au–PGMA bilayer lines linked by a PGMA film, which fold into cylindrical tubes. The bending of these objects can be predicted, and hence predefined during the synthesis process by controlling the parameters of the gold layer, and of the polymer brush.
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