Litho-particle Dispersions: Designer Particles with Customizable Shapes

Tech ID: 20126 / UC Case 2007-008-0


UCLA Researchers in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Department of Physics and Astronomy have developed and reduced to practice processes for mass-producing microscale and nanoscale particles with customizable control over particle shapes, compositions, and features. LithoParticle dispersions are ideal for biomarker applications in biological tagging and imaging, for anti-counterfeit security, and as parts for creating complex assemblies in solution.


Bottom-up synthesis can produce a very limited variety of particle shapes, such as spheres and rods, in a viscous liquid. The resulting particles can be highly uniform in size. However, there is no general method for mass-producing a wide variety of highly complex shapes that are specified by a customer using bottom-up self-assembly approaches. Although uniform microspheres have been used extensively in many protocols, these applications can be enhanced by using particles that have customized, user-specified shapes. Mass-producing particle shapes that conform with a desired design would revolutionize the variety of dispersions that are commercially available.


The invention described here uses directed, top-down processes facilitated by automated lithography, for rapid, massively parallel, high throughput production of particles of customizable shapes that exhibit high fidelity and uniformity. As a demonstration of the power of this invention, UCLA researchers have designed and fabricated colloidal alphabet soup: a dispersion of microscale polymer particles representing all twenty-six letters of the English alphabet in a viscous liquid. Submicron and nanoscale particles can be created by the same processes as well. Moreover, the internal composition, color, fluorescence, and 3-D structures of the particles can all be customized.


Microscale LithoParticles, whose fluorescence and desired shape can be customized, can function as anti-counterfeit security inks to authenticate highly valuable documents or items. They could also serve as novel fluorescent probes for biological applications such as biological and molecular tagging and cell imaging.


  • High level of control over shapes, sizes, features, color and fluorescence
  • Massively parallel high throughput production of particles
  • Complex multi-layer 3D shapes and customizable internal compositions
  • Ability to tailor functional surface groups to control stability and interactions

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 8,617,798 12/31/2013 2007-008

Related NCDs


  • 2007-138 Mechanical Process for Creating Particles in a Fluid
  • 2008-015 Process for modifying surfaces of particles made using spatially patterned radiation
  • 2008-016 Processes for relief deposition templating
  • 2008-017 Fabrication of custom particles using relief radiation templating
  • 2008-018 Variations of processes for making particles by spatially patterned radiation
  • 2008-019 Processes for modifying particles made using relief deposition templating


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  • Mason, Thomas G.

Other Information


research tools imaging watermark security materials nanotechnology

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