Dendrimer pattern formation in evaporating drops

Fang I. Li, Sean M. Thaler, Perry H. Leo, John A. Barnard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The redistribution of organic solutes during drop evaporation is a nanoscale self-assembly process with relevance to technologies ranging from inkjet printing of organic displays to synthesis of biosmart interfaces for sensing and screening. We have used solutions of dendrimer molecules with incrementally varying terminal site chemistry to explore whether the condensed dendrimer patterns resulting from microdroplet evaporation sensitively depend on, and are characteristic of, the surface chemistry of the solute molecules. This hypothesis has been experimentally confirmed by comparing the behavior of microdroplets of G4, G4-25%C12, and G4-50%C12 dendrimers dissolved in pentanol and deposited on mica substrates. For the dilute concentration studied here, the presence of periodically 'scalloped' dendrimer rings is ubiquitous. The instability wavelength of the scalloped rings is found to be proportional to the width of the ring, similar to observations of the rim instability in dewetting holes. The effect of dendrimer surface chemistry is obvious in the detailed structure of the self-assembled rings. G4 rings are diffuse and disordered with no evidence for layered growth. G4-25%C12 exhibits highly ordered ring structures and the onset of monomolecular terracing. G4-50%C12 exhibits highly periodic scallops and very distinct monomolecular height terraced growth of the rings with flat terraces and sharply defined steps. On the basis of these results, it is likely that the morphology of condensed molecule-based ring patterns formed by evaporation of microdroplets on surfaces can be used as a 'fingerprint' to identify, for example, solute molecule surface chemistry and concentration and function as a sensor for a variety of biochemical events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25838-25843
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 28 2006


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