Soft lithography for micro- and nanoscale patterning

Nat Protoc. 2010 Mar;5(3):491-502. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2009.234. Epub 2010 Feb 18.


This protocol provides an introduction to soft lithography--a collection of techniques based on printing, molding and embossing with an elastomeric stamp. Soft lithography provides access to three-dimensional and curved structures, tolerates a wide variety of materials, generates well-defined and controllable surface chemistries, and is generally compatible with biological applications. It is also low in cost, experimentally convenient and has emerged as a technology useful for a number of applications that include cell biology, microfluidics, lab-on-a-chip, microelectromechanical systems and flexible electronics/photonics. As examples, here we focus on three of the commonly used soft lithographic techniques: (i) microcontact printing of alkanethiols and proteins on gold-coated and glass substrates; (ii) replica molding for fabrication of microfluidic devices in poly(dimethyl siloxane), and of nanostructures in polyurethane or epoxy; and (iii) solvent-assisted micromolding of nanostructures in poly(methyl methacrylate).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biotechnology / instrumentation
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Elastomers
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques
  • Nanostructures
  • Nanotechnology / instrumentation
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Photography
  • Polymers


  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Elastomers
  • Polymers