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Pure Appl. Chem., 2008, Vol. 80, No. 8, pp. 1651-1668

Diverse approaches to the controlled generation of nanotextured surfaces

Jeremy J. Ramsden

Department of Materials, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL, UK

Abstract: Smooth, chemically uniform surfaces are seldom found in nature. Mimicry of natural variegation is a powerful approach for controlling chemical affinity at the nanoscale. Molecular recognition is one of the fundamental concepts underlying the functioning of living cells, and it depends on a particular relationship between the nanoscale, i.e., molecular, variegations of two potentially interacting molecular partners. The primary subject matter of this paper is how to articially generate appropriate nanoscale texture at the surfaces of materials. Excluding "pick and place" chemistry, in which essentially a Maxwellian demon intervenes to place objects with atomic precision, and nowadays achievable through an adaptation of atomic force microscopy, on the grounds that it is too slow to be practicable for fabricating useful quantities of material, three approaches are explored in some detail: (i) "powder", i.e., mixing at least two individually monofunctional (with respect to the ultimate molecular recognition task) precursor components (possibly with secondary functionality enabling them to appropriately self-assemble on a substratum); (ii) mixing polymers with the possibility of phase separation and frustrated phase separation with block copolymers; and (iii) felting. The emphasis is on processes that create more or less irregular structures, rather than regular arrays. The final section deals with the metrology of nanotexture.