Contact Information

  • James E. Hutchison
  • Professor
  • Chemistry
  • Materials Science Institute
  • Univ. of Oregon
  • Eugene, OR
  • 97403-1253
(541) 346 - 4228

Patterning Self-Assembled Monolayers on Gold. Green Materials Chemistry in the Teaching Laboratory

Author Contact:


Applications of organic chemistry to modify structure and surface properties of materials are becoming increasingly important and interdisciplinary as the dimensions of modern materials decrease. This laboratory exercise illustrates how macroscopic material properties can be modified with self-assembled monolayers and organic thin-film patterning. Using an inexpensive gold on vinyl substrate, students investigate the wettability of surfaces prepared using functionalized alkanethiol monolayers with either hydrophobic or hydrophilic terminating groups. The functionalized alkanethiols are used with microcontact printing techniques to pattern a surface that can be visualized in the presence of water vapor. The self-assembly of alkanethiol monolayers is ideally suited to introduce waste reduction, dematerialization, and improved energy efficiency as green chemistry principles. In addition, self-assembly produces less solvent waste compared to spin coating techniques commonly used to prepare surface films.

Supplemental materials are provided on the J. Chem. Educ. website and include detailed introductory and background information, instructions for students and notes for the instructors.

Summary prepared May 2005 by Julie A. Haack, Department of Chemistry at the University of Oregon.


McKenzie, L. C.; Huffman, L. M.; Parent, K. E.; Hutchison, J. E.; Thompson, J. E. J. Chem. Educ., Print 2004, 81, pp 545-548.

J. Chem. Educ. (Abstract only)

Category Descriptors

Chemistry Concepts
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Nanotechnology (Special Topics)
  • Surface Science
Laboratory Techniques
  • Contact Angle
  • Surface Modification
Green Chemistry Principles
  • Avoid Chemical Derivatives
  • Increase Energy Efficiency
  • Maximize Atom Economy
  • Prevent Waste
  • Use Safer Solvents/Reaction Conditions
Chemistry Subdiscipline
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Materials Science
  • Nanotechnology (Chemistry Subdiscipline)
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
Target Audience
  • Colleges/Universities
  • Journal Articles