Competing fracture in kinetically controlled transfer printing

Langmuir. 2007 Dec 4;23(25):12555-60. doi: 10.1021/la701555n. Epub 2007 Nov 9.


Transfer printing by kinetically switchable adhesion to an elastomeric stamp shows promise as a powerful micromanufacturing method to pickup microstructures and microdevices from the donor substrate and to print them to the receiving substrate. This can be viewed as the competing fracture of two interfaces. This paper examines the mechanics of competing fracture in a model transfer printing system composed of three laminates: an elastic substrate, an elastic thin film, and a viscoelastic member (stamp). As the system is peeled apart, either the interface between the substrate and thin film fails or the interface between the thin film and the stamp fails. The speed-dependent nature of the film/stamp interface leads to the prediction of a critical separation velocity above which separation occurs between the film and the substrate (i.e., pickup) and below which separation occurs between the film and the stamp (i.e., printing). Experiments verify this prediction using films of gold adhered to glass, and the theoretical treatment extends to consider the competing fracture as it applies to discrete micro-objects. Temperature plays an important role in kinetically controlled transfer printing with its influences, making it advantageous to pickup printable objects at the reduced temperatures and to print them at the elevated ones.