|Schedl, A.E.; Probst, P.; Meichner, C.; Neuber, C.; Kador, L.; Fery, A.; Schmidt, H.-W.: Confinement templates for hierarchical nanoparticle alignment prepared by azobenzene-based surface relief gratings, Soft Matter 15, 3872-3878 (2019) -- DOI: 10.1039/C8SM02585A|
Alignment of nanoparticles to hierarchical periodic structures is an emerging field in the development of patterned surfaces. Common alignment methods are based on templates that guide particle self-assembly. These can be formed using lithographic methods offering an almost free choice of the motif, while being expensive and time-consuming for large-scale production. Alternatively, template formation by controlled wrinkling offers a low-cost formation, but often suffers from the formation of defect structures like line-defects and cracks. Here, we show a preparation technique for nanoparticle alignment substrates that is based on the inscription of holographic surface relief gratings with a periodic sinusoidal wave pattern on the surface of azobenzene films. As interference patterns are employed for structure formation, very uniform and defect-free gratings with tunable grating height and grating period can be prepared. These substrates were successfully replicated to poly(dimethyl siloxane) and the replicas used for the alignment of polystyrene latex particles. Accordingly produced substrates exhibiting gratings with a variation in grating height allow for efficient screening of nanoparticle alignment in a geometrical confinement in one single experiment. We anticipate our studies as a promising tool for the development of sensors, tunable gratings and metamaterials.