Conformal Coating of Nanoporous Arrays via Layer-by-Layer Techniques

Technology #15785

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FIG. 2A is a schematic depicting characteristics of nanoporous elements in aqueous solution (fluid flow) and operation of one microfluidic bioparticle isolation scheme. FIG. 2B is an image depicting the top view of an example. FIG. 2C is an image depicting the vertical alignment of an exampleFIG. 4 is a graph depicting size and quantity distribution of particles carrying disease information in bloodFIG. 5A-C are micrographs depicting layer-by-layer results under nanoscale constraint and range of layers and resulting layered materials possible. FIGS. 5A and 5C are close-ups of FIG. 5B, in varying degrees. FIG. 5D is a micrograph depicting micron-deep nanochannels systematically and conformally coated with layer-by-layer assembled materials including polymer/polymer, polymer/nanoparticle and nanoparticle/nanoparticle combinationsFIG. 8 is a schematic depicting overview of nanoporous element integration in microfluidic devices
Professor Robert Cohen
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
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Professor Michael Rubner
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
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Professor Brian Wardle
Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT
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Professor Mehmet Toner
Massachusetts General Hospital
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Fabio Fachin
Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT
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Jim Freedman
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Chemicals, Instruments, Consumer Products
Patent Protection

High definition nanomaterials

US Patent 9,506,846
Layer-by-layer functionalized nanotube arrays: A versatile microfluidic platform for biodetection
Microsystems and Nanoengineering, December 21, 2015, doi:10.1038/micronano.2015.37


This technology describes a novel class of 3D molecular-layered nanoporous materials (High Definition Nanomaterials, or HDnanomaterials) that can be used to construct fluidic devices capable of isolating and manipulating nanometer-scale particles suspended in a fluid. Such devices have applications in areas including clinical diagnostics and treatment monitoring (e.g., manipulation of HIV viral particles or circulating tumor cells), as well as the construction of high-throughput taste and smell sensors.

Problems Addressed

The capability to recognize and isolate small bioparticles present at low concentrations in a fluid has significant utility in the diagnosis and management of diseases such as HIV and cancer. However, existing N/MEMS platforms are unable to access many nanometer-scale particles of clinical interest. Furthermore, previous attempts at nanoscale filtering are impaired by low flow rates as a result of low permeability. This invention overcomes these limitations by advancing on-chip bioparticle manipulation into previously unexplored length scales (e.g. HIV virus, ~100 nm) while retaining Darcy drag 4-5 orders of magnitude lower than existing porous materials.


The invention extends solution-based layer-by-layer (LBL) deposition to vertical aligned carbon nanotube (VACNT) forests, resulting in 3D bulk nanoporous materials where internal surfaces are modified with molecular-layered coatings. Surface characteristics of the multilayer coating, including chemical functionalization, mechanical properties, and nanometer-scale texture, can be tailored in all three dimensions by adjusting LBL assembly conditions. Additionally, porosity of the bulk material can be controlled by varying the growth conditions of the VACNT scaffold. In combination, these capabilities allow HDnanomaterials to be used for simultaneous multi-scale and multi-physics manipulation of nanoscale bioparticles. Beyond microfluidic applications, HDnanomaterials can also be post-processed to produce nanocomposites for structural, energy storage, and other applications.


  • Enables manipulation of nanometer-scale bioparticles (e.g. HIV virus), expanding new frontiers in clinical diagnostics and treatment monitoring
  • Achieves 10,000-100,000x reduction in Darcy drag over existing porous materials, enabling high-throughput filtering and other microfluidic applications
  • Captures bioparticles throughout volume of the HDnanomaterial element instead of being limited to the surface as in typical microfluidic capture elements
  • Extends LBL deposition techniques onto 3D bulk nanoscale features