Wrinkled Surface Method Has Widespread Applications

A team of researchers at MIT has discovered a process to creating wrinkled surfaces with precise sizes and patterns. This basic method could be harnessed for a wide variety of useful structures, such as microfluidic systems for biological research, sensing and diagnostics; new photonic devices that can control light waves; controllable adhesive surfaces; antireflective coatings; and antifouling surfaces that prevent microbial buildup. The process uses two layers of material. The bottom layer is a silicon-based polymer that can be stretched. Then, a second layer of polymeric material is deposited through an initiated chemical vapor deposition process in which the material is heated in a vacuum so that it vaporizes, and then lands on the stretched surface and bonds tightly to it. The stretching is then released first in one direction, and then in the other - in a controlled, stepwise release pattern developed by the MIT team that creates a orderly herringbone pattern - rather than all at once.