Injection molding micro- and nanostructures in thermoplastic elastomers

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Stormonth-Darling, John M. ; Saeed, Anwer ; Reynolds, Paul M. ; Gadegaard, Nikolaj (2016)

Flexible polymers such as poly dimethyl siloxane (PDMS) can be patterned at the micro- and nanoscale by casting, for a variety of applications. This replication-based fabrication process is relatively cheap and fast, yet injection molding offers an even faster and cheaper alternative to PDMS casting, provided thermoplastic polymers with similar mechanical properties can be used. In this paper, a thermoplastic polyurethane is evaluated for its patterning ability with an aim to forming the type of flexible structures used to measure and modulate the contractile forces of cells in tissue engineering experiments. The successful replication of grating structures is demonstrated with feature sizes as low as 100 nm and an analysis of certain processing conditions that facilitate and enhance the accuracy of this replication is presented. The results are benchmarked against an optical storage media grade polycarbonate.
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