Get the full paper here: Small, 11, 4540 (2015). (Highlighted in SCIENCE; 349, 393, 2015).
Patchy particles are next generation colloidal building blocks for self-assembly and find further use as (bio) sensors. Progress in this direction crucially depends on developing straightforward preparation pathways able to provide patchy particles with highest uniformity and integrating precise, orthogonal, and spatially localized functionalizations to mediate interaction patterns. This continues to be one of the great challenges in colloid science. Herein, a method is shown utilizing functionalized random and block copolymers as microcontact printing inks to prepare patchy particles with outstanding control over patch size and quality. The polymeric nature and tight covalent attachment of the ink prevents flow of the ink over the particle during printing. This minimizes patch broadening and yields very small and extremely uniform patches, which is especially challenging for particle sizes below 10 μm. Click-type (amine/active ester, alkyne/azide, biotin/avidin) reactions can be performed selectively on the patch or on the particle body, rendering the particles interesting for application in imaging, biomolecular detection, and as advanced precision colloid-based building blocks.