Twitter LinkedIn
Return to Wellspring



Manufacturing of Novel Polymer Nanopillars


Project TitleManufacturing of Novel Polymer Nanopillars
Track Code2012-004
Short Description

A new, novel fabrication process for polymer nanopillars combining anodic aluminium oxide (AAO) templates and the Nanoimprint Lithography (NIL) process

Tagsnanoimprinting, polymer nanopillar, patterns, geometry
Posted DateAug 8, 2012 2:30 PM


Hongwei Sun
Sai Lui


Kerry Lee Andken


Existing nanostructural coating approaches like spray coating [1], surface etching [2] and electrospinning [3] cannot accurately control coating parameters such as porosity, thickness and geometry. This results in non-uniform production of nanostructure patterns with polymer materials. These existing manufacturing processes are expensive, need installation of specialized, sophisticated equipment and require skilled personnel. A new technology, nanoimprint lithography (NIL) [4] has been shown to be a repeatable and low cost approach for obtaining nanostructural patterning. Compared to the traditional nanoscale fabrication methods, the NIL approach is much easier to control for thickness, pattern geometry and location, resulting in a simple nanolithography process with low cost, high throughput and high resolution. There is currently no method for combining NIL technology with use of polymer templates. This would allow fabrication of large scale polymer pillars with high reproducibility, easy one step procedure of imprinting and chemical treatment and generate significant cost savings in the production.

Figure 1: Schematics of the fabrication process for nanopillar polymer coating with nanoimprint: (a) spin coating with solid polymer film; (b) attach the AAO on the polymer surface; (c) package for nanoimprint process; (d) release the mold by dissolving the AAO in NaOH solution.


UML 2012-004 “Manufacturing of Polymer Nanopillars by anodic aluminium oxide (AAO) template and nanoprint lithography” PI: Dr. Hongwei Sun

UMass Lowell professor, Hongwei Sun, has developed a new, novel fabrication process for polymer nanopillars combining anodic aluminium oxide (AAO) templates and the NIL process. The advantages of using AAO as the mold include having uniform structural size of pore distributed evenly in a thin film, a wide range of pore size available, possess a high length to diameter aspect ratio for nanowire/nanopillar fabrication and has an easy to define coating area associated with low cost of imprinting.


  • Sensing Devices
    • This fabrication technique allows nanostructure chemo-selective polymer coating for sensing device such as SAW sensor and QCM sensor.
  •  Fabrication of super hydrophobic surfaces for solar cells
  • High performance batteries

  • Fabrication of water proof surfaces

Competitive Advantages

  •  Significant  cost saving
    •  Low cost of  AAO combined with low price of chemicals used in the process makes the fabrication process very cost effective
  •  Easy fabrication process
    • This process allows reproducible fabrication of polymer nanopillars with easy procedure including one step imprint and chemical treatment

Market Potential

Nanoimprint lithography (NIL) is a growing industry that has gained much traction over the last few at a very rapid pace. A recent report by Global Industry Analysts predicts that the global market for nanopatterning will hit US$481.48 million by 2012. Continued research to pattern nanometer scale features using different materials and resists has ensued the emergence and progress of hot embossing, UV-NIL, microcontact printing, and dip-pen nanolithography, among others. Among the nanopatterning technologies, NIL exhibits the most promising outlook. With anticipation that NIL emerges successful for commercial semiconductor manufacturing at 32nm node in the near future, the market for NIL is projected to grow the fastest between 2008 and 2015.


[1] Levit, N., Pestov, G., Tepper. G. High surface area polymer coatings for SAW-based chemical sensor     application. Sensor and Acutuators B, 2002, Vol.82, pp241-249

[2] Thompson, M., Stone, D.C., Nisman, R. Response selectivity of etched surface acoustic wave sensors.                 Analytica Chimica Acta, 1991, Vol. 248, pp143-153

[3] Liu, S., Sun, H., Nagarajan, R., Kumar, J., Gu, Z., Cho, J.H., and Kurup, P. Dynamic chemical vapor sensing         with nanofibrous film based surface acoustic wave sensors. Sensor and Actuators A, 2002, Vol.167, pp8-13

[4] Chou, S., Krauss, P.R., Renstrom, P.R. Imprint Lithography with 25-nanometer Resolution. Science, 1996, Vol. 272, No. 5258, pp 85-87



Rajnish Kaushik

Assistant Director

Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC)

University of Massachusetts Lowell

600 Suffolk Street, 2nd Floor

Lowell, MA 01854

Phone: 978-934-4708


File Name Description
UML12_04_Hongwei_Sun_Marketing_Summary_Final.pdf None Download