Electron Beam Maneuvering of a Single Polymer Layer for Reversible 3D Self-Assembly

Chunhui Dai, Jeong Hyun Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Reversible self-assembly that allows materials to switch between structural configurations has triggered innovation in various applications, especially for reconfigurable devices and robotics. However, reversible motion with nanoscale controllability remains challenging. This paper introduces a reversible self-assembly using stress generated by electron irradiation triggered degradation (shrinkage) of a single polymer layer. The peak position of the absorbed energy along the depth of a polymer layer can be modified by tuning the electron energy; the peak absorption location controls the position of the shrinkage generating stress along the depth of the polymer layer. The stress gradient can shift between the top and bottom surface of the polymer by repeatedly tuning the irradiation location at the nanoscale and the electron beam voltage, resulting in reversible motion. This reversible self-assembly process paves the path for the innovation of small-scale machines and reconfigurable functional devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2066-2073
Number of pages8
JournalNano letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 10 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant CMMI-1454293. Portions of this work were conducted in the Minnesota Nano Center, which is supported by the National Science Foundation through the National Nano Coordinated Infrastructure Network (NNCI) under Award ECCS-2025124. This work was supported partially by the National Science Foundation through the University of Minnesota MRSEC under Award DMR-2011401. Part of this work was carried out in the College of Science and Engineering Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which has received capital equipment funding from the National Science Foundation through the UMN MRSEC under Award DMR-2011401. C.D. acknowledges support from the Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society.


  • 3D
  • in situ
  • nanoscale locomotion
  • polymer
  • reversible self-assembly

How much support was provided by MRSEC?

  • Partial

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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