Mechanically sensitive molecules known as mechanophores have recently attracted much interest due to the need for mechanoresponsive materials. Maleimide-anthracene mechanophores located at the interface between poly(glycidyl methacrylate) (PGMA) polymer brushes and Si wafer surfaces were activated locally using atomic force microscopy (AFM) probes to deliver mechanical stimulation. Each individual maleimide-anthracene mechanophore exhibits binary behavior: undergoing a retro-[4 + 2] cycloaddition reaction under high load to form a surface-bound anthracene moiety and free PGMA or remaining unchanged if the load falls below the activation threshold. In the context of nanolithography, this behavior allows the high spatial selectivity required for the design and production of complex and hierarchical patterns with nanometer precision. The high spatial precision and control reported in this work brings us closer to molecular level programming of surface chemistry, with promising applications such as 3D nanoprinting, production of coatings, and composite materials that require nanopatterning or texture control as well as nanodevices and sensors for measuring mechanical stress and damage in situ.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry