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Microstructured Hydrogel Templates for the Formation of Conductive Gold Nanowire Arrays

: Wünnemann, P.; Noyong, M.; Kreuels, K.; Brüx, R.; Gordiichuk, P.; Rijn, P. van; Plamper, F.A.; Simon, U.; Böker, A.


Macromolecular rapid communications 37 (2016), No.17, pp.1446–1452
ISSN: 1022-1336
ISSN: 1521-3927
ISSN: 0173-2803
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IAP ()

Microstructured hydrogel allows for a new template-guided method to obtain conductive nanowire arrays on a large scale. To generate the template, an imprinting process is used in order to synthesize the hydrogel directly into the grooves of wrinkled polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). The resulting poly(N-vinylimidazole)-based hydrogel is defined by the PDMS stamp in pattern and size. Subsequently, tetrachloroaurate(III) ions from aqueous solution are coordinated within the humps of the N-vinylimidazole-containing polymer template and reduced by air plasma. After reduction and development of the gold, to achieve conductive wires, the extension perpendicular to the long axis (width) of the gold strings is considerably reduced compared to the dimension of the parental hydrogel wrinkles (from ≈1 μm down to 200–300 nm). At the same time, the wire-to-wire distance and the overall length of the wires is preserved. The PDMS templates and hydrogel structures are analyzed with scanning force microscopy (SFM) and the gold structures via scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. The conductivity measurements of the gold nanowires are performed in situ in the SEM, showing highly conductive gold leads. Hence, this method can be regarded as a facile nonlithographic top-down approach from micrometer-sized structures to nanometer-sized features.