R. Agarwal, Singh, V., Jurney, P., Shi, L., Sreenivasan, S. V., and Roy, K., “Scalable Imprinting of Shape-Specific Polymeric Nanocarriers using a Release Layer of Switchable Water Solubility,” ACS Nano, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 2524–2531, 2012.
There is increasing interest in fabricating shape-specific polymeric nano- and microparticles for efficient delivery of drugs and imaging agents. The size and shape of these particles could significantly influence their transport properties and play an important role in in vivo biodistribution, targeting, and cellular uptake. Nanoimprint lithography methods, such as jet-and-flash imprint lithography (J-FIL), provide versatile top-down processes to fabricate shape-specific, biocompatible nanoscale hydrogels that can deliver therapeutic and diagnostic molecules in response to disease-specific cues. However, the key challenges in top-down fabrication of such nanocarriers are scalable imprinting with biological and biocompatible materials, ease of particle-surface modification using both aqueous and organic chemistry as well as simple yet biocompatible harvesting. Here we report that a biopolymer-based sacrificial release layer in combination with improved nanocarrier-material formulation can address these challenges. The sacrificial layer improves scalability and ease of imprint-surface modification due to its switchable solubility through simple ion exchange between monovalent and divalent cations. This process enables large-scale bionanoimprinting and efficient, one-step harvesting of hydrogel nanoparticles in both water- and organic-based imprint solutions.