Lithographic patterning of polymeric media for biotechnology applications
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Lithographic patterning has heavily utilized in the semiconductor industry for its ability to pattern vast numbers of complex shapes down to the nanometer scale. However, only recently has this technology been employed in the biotechnology field despite the fact that most of that the most important biological components such as cells, antibodies, DNA and proteins operate at this level. This work is an exploration of the use of lithographic printing methods in two areas deeply-entrenched in biotechnology: self assembly and microarray-based manipulation of biological media. It was inspired by the natural self assembly which occurs in nature and in our bodies at all scales. The majority of this work dealt with the patterning of bioreactive copolymers into different three-dimensional microshapes which could be functionalized with single strands of DNA for subsequent sequence-specific particle assembly. This type of technology, where very small-scale matter can be directed to self assembly into programmed macrostructures in a highly-specific manner has the capability to be adapted for many next-generation applications in drug delivery, nanofabrication, biosensing, and microelectronics. A secondary technology was explored in this work involving the paired sequencing of antibody gene sequences with the aid of lithographically-patterned microarrays. This methodology represents a bridging of bottom-up fabrication methods of DNA and proteins with top-down optical fabrication techniques which is already finding increasing utility in applications such as vaccine discovery, diagnostics, and autoimmune research. Because of the versatile nature of the components of this research, it is the hope of the author that the techniques discovered and explored here provide support and inspiration for future research in the biotechnology field as well as in other fields which may benefit as well.