Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

System and Method for Printing Nanoparticle Layers for Growth of Nanostructures

Technology #4979

System and method for printing nanoparticle layers for growth of nanostructures

This technology presents both manual and automated methods for printing and transferring nanoparticle layers from magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) toner to solid substrates for growth of nanostructures. Current catalyst patterning techniques include photolithography and printing of catalyst inks using inkjet printer heads. Photolithography, such as e-beam deposition, provides accurate and repeatable deposition. However, the process is time-consuming and cost-prohibitive for large scale production. Inkjet printing suffers from low resolution limit of about 5 micrometer, compared to a laser printing system that is described in this technology at 0.5 micrometer. Laser printing allows for smaller catalyst features to be deposited.

Laser Printer for Catalyst Patterning

In the automated method, a printed MICR pattern of catalyst on high density polyethylene was bonded to a roller which acts as a re-usable stamp. The pattern of the catalyst is then transferred to a new substrate through the use of compressive pressure between the roller and the substrate, as well as heating from below the substrate. Using a set rotational speed, compression force and heating temperature, a portion of the MICR pattern is transferred to the substrate for nanostructure growth. As the stamp is progressively used, the printing parameters can be adjusted to ensure optimal catalyst transfer from MICR toner to substrate. This technology can be used to pattern small features (0.5 micrometers) of catalysts for subsequent nanostructure fabrication.


  • Patterning a wide array of nanoparticle catalysts on various substrates, for nanostructure fabrication
  • Catalysis applications where small features are essential to performance
  • Can be incorporated to the assembly line of nanomedicine manufacturing


  • Users can define a nanostructure growth pattern using familiar, user-friendly computer programs such as word processors, CAD, or other graphics software
  • Laser printing provides smaller feature sizes than inkjet printing
  • More cost-effective than competing photolithography methods