Surface Wrinkle Printing

Roll-to-Roll Surface Wrinkle Printing


Surface wrinkles are everywhere in daily life, such as in fingerprints. Wrinkles created by conventional techniques are often produced in piecemeal fashion in special environments, and the fabrication processes are often costly, time-consuming, and not scalable.

Roll-to-Roll (R2R) surface wrinkle printing technology addresses these technological hurdles and can scale up micro/nanowrinkle production inexpensively and continuously with high throughput. R2R processing is widely used in industrial settings such as in newspaper printing. Our technology utilizes an innovative approach to induce and manipulate strain fields to form surface wrinkles spontaneously in a contactless manner. Combining R2R concept and wrinkling mechanism, this technology has the advantages of high throughput, scalability and cost effectiveness. Roll-to-roll surface wrinkle printing was created with manufacturing scalability in mind, and could be completely transferable to a continuous R2R production line so that large-scale applications of surface wrinkles are made possible in aforementioned areas.


Surface wrinkles are formed on a soft substrate through a simple wrinkling mechanism that uses thin film layers with unique mechanical properties. The surface wrinkles can be one-dimensional lines or two-dimensional herringbone and labyrinth morphologies depending on the strain fields induced by different roller shapes. The wrinkle feature size can vary from hundreds of nanometers to hundreds of microns.

Surface wrinkles can be produced continuously and repeatably in a low-cost and high-throughput manner. The wide range of surface wrinkle size and manufacturing scalability can potentially benefit a variety of application fields. Micro/nanoscale surface wrinkles are particularly interesting in a variety of application areas such as tunable optics, biomedical research, stretchable electronics, coatings with controlled wettability and adhesion, etc.


Surface wrinkles are prone to having line defects and cracks.


  1. Yang Shu; Khare Krishnacharya; Lin Pei‐Chun. Harnessing Surface Wrinkle Patterns in Soft Matter. Advanced Functional Materials 2010, 20 (16), 2550–2564.
  2. Chen Chi‐Mon; Yang Shu. Wrinkling Instabilities in Polymer Films and Their Applications. Polymer International 2012, 61 (7), 1041–1047.
  3. Lin, P.-C.; Yang, S. Spontaneous Formation of One-Dimensional Ripples in Transit to Highly Ordered Two-Dimensional Herringbone Structures through Sequential and Unequal Biaxial Mechanical Stretching. Phys. Lett. 2007, 90 (24), 241903.
  4. Genzer, J.; Groenewold, J. Soft Matter with Hard Skin: From Skin Wrinkles to Templating and Material Characterization. Soft Matter 2006, 2 (4), 310–323.


Download Kick-Off slides about the technology.
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About the Labs

Xu Zhang
Xu Zhang
Kate Stebe
Professor Kathleen Stebe
Daeyeon Lee
Daeyeon Lee
Shu Yang
Shu Yang