As physical processes for generating miniaturized structures increase in resolution, the types of scientific questions one can ask and answer become increasingly refined. Indeed, if one had the capability to control surface architecture on the 1–100-nm length scale with reasonable speed and accuracy, one could ask and answer some of the most important questions in science and, in the process, develop technologies that could allow for major advances in surface science, chemistry, biology, and human health. This length scale, which is exceedingly difficult to control, comprises the length scale of much of chemistry and most of biology. Indeed, chemical and biochemical recognition events are essentially sophisticated examples of pattern-recognition processes. Therefore, if one could pattern on this length scale with control over feature size, shape, registration, and composition, one could systematically uncover the secrets of recognition processes involving extraordinarily complex molecules. Arecent invention, dip-pen nanolithography (DPN), may provide access to this type of control over surface architecture and entry into a new realm of structure-versus-function studies for chemists, biologists, physicists, and materials scientists.
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