Description: The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and Pennsylvania State University have developed a novel method for the metallization of nanotextured polymeric films that have sensing and catalyst applications. Metallization allows thin films to be used in many, diverse applications. For example, the metallization method allows for the control of layer thickness which is critical in electrocatalysis. Also, the method can produce aluminum coatings for capacitors used in energy storage. Metallization can provide an alternative process for binding and sealing in the field of optics. The method takes advantage of nanotextured polymer thin films, which are ideal metallization templates. The proper selection of film geometry and deposition conditions permits exquisite, simultaneous control of film morphology, topology, and surface chemistry. The resulting nanofilms have diverse, well-organized, porous structures and are coated with metals via electroless methods or thermal evaporation. The metallized nanotextured thin films have uses in biomedical implantation, metal–dielectric composites, energy storage, and biosensing platforms depending on the type of metal (i.e. gold, cobalt, nickel, etc.). Research has confirmed detection of E. coli (Gram-negative), Bacillus cereus (Gram-positive), respiratory syncytial virus, and creatinine when nanotextured film is metalized with gold nanoparticles. Additionally, the cobalt metalized film confirmed high rate catalytic activity for hydrogen generation from borohydrate solutions. NRL has all rights to this technology.

Advantages/Features Include:

  • Increased surface area due to nanotexture
  • Enhanced adhesion between metal particles and substrate
  • Prepared easily, without toxic chemicals
  • Confirmed biocompatibility, FDA-approved for implants
  • Produced uniform coating, high durability
  • Configured as self-standing and flexible metallized films

Applications Include:

  • Catalytic:
    • Hydrogen generation for energy applications
    • Flexible catalytic film for miniaturized devices
  • Sensing:
    • Virus and bacteria detection
    • Genomic and synthetic DNA detection
    • Diagnostic microbiology
    • Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS)


  • "Catalytic Activity of Cobalt Deposited on Nanostructured Poly(p-xylylene) Films," Journal of Power Sources, 182 (2008) 323 -328.
  • "A Non-Covalent Method for Depositing Nanoporous Metals via Spatially Organized Poly (p-xylylene) Films," Advanced Materials, 19 (2007) 4495 - 4499.
  • "Bio-organism Sensing via Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy on Controlled Metal/Polymer Nanostructured Substrates," Biointerphases 4 (2009) 35 - 41.
  • "Surface Enhanced Raman Detection of Bacteria on Metalized Nanostructured Poly(p-xylylene) Films," Advanced Materials 20 (2008) 3562 - 3565.

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