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Published October 1, 2001 | public
Journal Article Open

Physical mechanisms governing pattern fidelity in microscale offset printing


We have studied the offset printing of liquid polymers curable by exposure to ultraviolet light onto flat and unpatterned silicon and glass substrates. The interplay of capillary, viscous, and adhesion forces dominates the dynamics of ink transfer at small feature sizes and low capillary number. For smooth and nonporous substrates, pattern fidelity can be compromised because the ink contact lines are free to migrate across the substrate during plate separation. Using a combination of experiments and equilibrium simulations, we have identified the physical mechanisms controlling ink transfer and pattern fidelity. In considering the resolution limit of this technique, it appears that the dynamics of ink flow and redistribution during transfer do not explicitly depend on the absolute feature size, but only on the aspect ratio of film thickness to feature size. Direct printing holds promise as a high-throughput fabrication method for large area electronics.

Additional Information

©2001 American Institute of Physics. (Accepted 7 March 2001) This project was funded by the Molecular Level Printing program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the New Jersey Center for Science and Technology Program for Large Area Electronics. Additional funding from the National Science Foundation XYZ on a Chip program (Grant No. CTS-0088774) and a Princeton University MRSEC grant (No. DMR-9809483) is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank the Austrian Fonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung for a postdoctoral fellowship.


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