The results* suggest that deeper work is necessary to explore the best way of creating these films, which are used in applications ranging from high-tech mirrors to computer memory devices.
The method of creating a thin film can have great effect on the material, such as the orientation of the tiny cylinders in this film proposed for use in computer memory. One method of film creation is far more effective at creating copolymer films with cylinders that stand on end (b), as they must to be usable. Scale bar represents 200 nanometers. Credit: NIST
Thin films spread atop a surface have many applications in industry. Inexpensive organic solar cells might be made of such films, to name one potential use. Typically they're made by dissolving the polymer, and then spreading a small amount of the liquid out on a surface, called a substrate. The solution becomes a film as the solvent dries and the remainder solidifies. But as this happens, stresses develop within the film that can affect its structure.
Manufacturers would like to know more about how to control these stresses to ensure the film does what they want. But scientists who study film formation often use a different method of casting films than a manufacturer would. One method used in industry is "flow coating"—similar to spreading frosting across a cake. Another method is "spin casting"—placing a drop of liquid on a substrate that spins rapidly and spreads the droplet out evenly by centrifugal force. Both methods create smooth films generally, but the team decided to examine whether the two methods create different effects in finished films consisting of a self-assembling block copolymer.
"It's an important question because some proposed applications intend to take advantage of these effects," Douglas says.
The team's comparison led to results that surprised them. Although the rapid spinning of spin casting is very dynamic, suggesting it would convey more stress to the resulting film, it actually led to fewer residual stresses than flow coating did. As previous studies have shown that leftover solvent can lead to stresses in the film, the team's new theory is that because the solvent evaporates from the developing film more slowly in flow coating, this solvent discourages the film solids from arranging themselves into the equilibrium structure.
For one example, the practical benefits of this understanding could help manufacturers who propose making computer memory devices from thin films in which the solids arrange themselves as tiny cylinders in the film. Such devices would require the cylinders to stand on end, not lay down flat.
"We find we can get them to stand up much more easily with one casting method than another," Douglas says. "If we can get better results simply by varying the mode of film casting, we need to explore more deeply what happens when you make films by different methods."
* X. Zhang, J.F. Douglas and R.L. Jones. Influence of film casting method on block copolymer ordering in thin films. Soft Matter, Mar. 21, 2012. doi:10.1039/C2SM07308K.
Chad Boutin | EurekAlert!
Harder 3D-printed tools – Researchers from Dresden introduce new process for hardmetal industry
11.10.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Keramische Technologien und Systeme IKTS
Flying High with VCSEL Heating
04.10.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.
Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...
Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles
Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...
When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.
We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...
Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...
Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...
17.10.2018 | Event News
16.10.2018 | Event News
02.10.2018 | Event News
19.10.2018 | Life Sciences
19.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
19.10.2018 | Trade Fair News