Engineering Hierarchical Nanostructures by Elastocapillary Self-Assembly


  • Dr. Michaël De Volder,

    Corresponding author
    1. imec and Department of Mechanical Engineering, KULeuven, Heverlee (Belgium)
    2. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Ma (USA)
    • imec and Department of Mechanical Engineering, KULeuven, Heverlee (Belgium)
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  • Prof. A. John Hart

    1. Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (USA)
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Surfaces coated with nanoscale filaments such as silicon nanowires and carbon nanotubes are potentially compelling for high-performance battery and capacitor electrodes, photovoltaics, electrical interconnects, substrates for engineered cell growth, dry adhesives, and other smart materials. However, many of these applications require a wet environment or involve wet processing during their synthesis. The capillary forces introduced by these wet environments can lead to undesirable aggregation of nanoscale filaments, but control of capillary forces can enable manipulation of the filaments into discrete aggregates and novel hierarchical structures. Recent studies suggest that the elastocapillary self-assembly of nanofilaments can be a versatile and scalable means to build complex and robust surface architectures. To enable a wider understanding and use of elastocapillary self-assembly as a fabrication technology, we give an overview of the underlying fundamentals and classify typical implementations and surface designs for nanowires, nanotubes, and nanopillars made from a wide variety of materials. Finally, we discuss exemplary applications and future opportunities to realize new engineered surfaces by the elastocapillary self-assembly of nanofilaments.