Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Photolithography production of reconfigurable colloidal crystals

Technology #6110

Colloidal crystal assemblies are useful structures, which can have many applications in sensors, optics and communications. Colloids may self-assemble into structures naturally, but this process takes a long time and cannot be controlled. Directed assembly processes afford more control with the use of gravitational, electrical and magnetic fields, but are limited by their confinement to 2D assemblies and lack of reconfigurability or reversibility due to the reliance on templates and fixed surface features.

Photolithography for reconfigurable colloidal crystal assemblies

A method of production of colloidal crystal systems using the application of light results in the directed assembly of colloidal particles, which can be reconfigured into different formations in space and time. The simple photolithography method produces crystal assemblies on very fast time scales of less than 60s and in selected regions as small as 10 angstrom. This method, which uses commonly available materials, may find use in many growing fields such as electronic readers using e-inks, production of photoresponsive materials and reconfigurable circuits.


  • E-inks
  • Photoresponsive materials
  • Reconfigurable circuit elements
  • Sensing applications
  • Communications technologies


  • Reversible and reconfigurable in space and time
  • Fast kinetics of self-assembly
  • Does not require a template or complex optics
  • Not confined to 2D assemblies