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Title: Interfacial Behavior of Polymers: Using Interfaces to Manipulate Polymers

The self-assembly of block copolymers into arrays of nanoscopic domains with areal densities approaching 10 terbit/in2 offer tremendous promise for the fabrication of ultrahigh density storage devices, batteries and other energy relevant devices. Interfacial interactions play a key role in dictating the orientation and ordering of these self-assembling materials. We have investigated the use of preferential and neutral solvents to overcome interfacial interactions and to rapid accelerate the dynamics of these materials, since the high molecular weight of the polymers significantly slows diffusion processes. Using a tailor-made chamber, we have introduced solvent vapor annealing (SVA) where solvent with a well-defined vapor pressures sells the copolymer film, enabling control over the solvent content in the film and, therefore, the thermodynamics governing the microphase separation of the copolymer, the interactions with the substrate and air interfaces and the dynamics. This tailor-made chamber also allows us to perform in situ grazing incidence x-ray scattering studies where the copolymer films can be characterized on the nanoscopic level over macroscopic distances. The methodologies developed in our laboratories are now used in numerous laboratories world-wide. We have found that arrays of block copolymer microdomains with perfect orientational order can be achieved over macroscopic areas using themore » SVA processes but the translational order is perturbed during the film drying process. As the copolymer film is swollen, the confinement of the film to the substrate introduces a frustration to the ordering of the microdomains. After equilibrium is achieved, when the swollen films are brought very close to the ordering transition, near perfect ordering is achieved. However, upon removal of the solvent, the confinement of the film to the substrate introduces translational disorder. We have investigated the influence of the rate of solvent removal and have found that most rapid solvent removal process drives the copolymer film to below its glass transition temperature, freezing in the lateral order. We have quantitatively described the ordering and the parameters influencing the disruption of the ordering in these studies. We have also used e-beam lithography to generate shallow trench patterns on planar surface where the topographic patterning provides an additional constraint on the self-assembly of the block copolymer. The pitches of the trenches were varied while the depth and the trench width of patterns were maintained by constant at 89 and 30nm, respectively. Unidirectional PS-b-PEO line patterns over large area on the shallow trench patterns were obtained by solvent vapor annealing. We extended the solvent annealing process to an in-line coating process using a mini-slot die coater developed in our laboratories. This coater uses minimal materials with operating parameters that can mimic actual industrial processing on a roll-to-roll line. Most important, with this mini-slot die coater, it could also characterize the structure of the film using grazing incidence x-ray scattering. Using the fundamental characterization of the ordering of the block copolymers, we could optimize the coating conditions to enhance lateral ordering of block copolymer in a well-defined manner. The structures produced in this process are directly transferable to flexible electronics where the arrays of block copolymer microdomains can be used for the fabrication of nanostructured components. We have also controlled the orientation of BCP microdomains at the air and substrate interfaces by manipulating the interfacial interactions with selective solvents. This has enabled us to generate nanoporous membranes where the size of the pores is dictated by the size of the bloc copolymer microdomains. We have produced robust nanoporous membranes that can tolerate high pressures and have high throughput using thick films of block copolymers. Exceptional size selectivity has been achieved. The membranes are tolerant against acid and base washing and can be prepared over large areas. These membranes are finding applications in a water-purification and separations processes.« less
  1. Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA (United States). Dept. of Polymer Science and Engineering
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Technical Report
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Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA (United States). Dept. of Polymer Science and Engineering
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Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE block copolymers; solvent annealing; lateral order