Functionalization of a surface with biomimetic nano-/micro-scale roughness (wires) has attracted significant interests in surface science and engineering as well as has inspired many real-world applications including anti-fouling and superhydrophobic surfaces. Although methods relying on lithography include soft-lithography greatly increase our abilities in structuring hard surfaces with engineered nano-/micro-topologies mimicking real-world counterparts, such as lotus leaves, rose petals, and gecko toe pads, scalable tools enabling us to pattern polymeric substrates with the same structures are largely absent in literature. Here we present a robust and simple technique combining anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) templating and vacuum-assisted molding to fabricate nanowires over polymeric substrates. We have demonstrated the efficacy and robustness of the technique by successfully fabricating nanowires with large aspect ratios (>25) using several common soft materials including both cross-linking polymers and thermal plastics. Furthermore, a model is also developed to determine the length and molding time based on nanowires material properties (e.g., viscosity and interfacial tension) and operational parameters (e.g., pressure, vacuum, and AAO template dimension). Applying the technique, we have further demonstrated the confinement effects on polymeric crosslinking processes and shown substantial lengthening of the curing time.
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