CrossRef enabled

PAC Archives

Archive →

Pure Appl. Chem., 2003, Vol. 75, No. 5, pp. 621-630

Millimeter-scale self-assembly and its applications

Mila Boncheva, D. A. Bruzewicz and G. M. Whitesides*

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Self-assembly is a concept familiar to chemists. In the molecular and nanoscale regimes, it is often used as a strategy in fabricating regular 3D structures—that is, crystals. Self-assembly of components with sizes in the µm-to-mm range is less familiar to chemists; this type of self-assembly may, however, become technologically important in the future. In this size range, self-assembly offers methods to form regular 3D structures from components too small or too numerous to be manipulated by other means, and methods to incorporate function into these structures; it also offers simplicity and economy.
This paper focuses on the use of self-assembly to build functional systems of components with sizes in the range from microns to millimeters. It compares the principles of selfassembly at the molecular and millimeter scales, reviews the possible applications of mesoscale, self-assembled systems, and outlines some of the most important issues in the use of self-assembly to build functional systems.