- Nanostructure formation in thin polymer films (2004)
- In the first part of this thesis an improved process is presented to prepare laterally structured substrates via hierarchical self organization. A miscut silicon surface annealed at 1400 K under ultra high vacuum conditions is used. The resulting facets are stable against oxidation and form a topographic pattern which can be further modified to a chemical pattern via evaporation of gold on every other facet. By controlling the time of annealing, we create structures with a reproducible mean width ranging from 40 to 400 nm. Despite the rather complex ultra high vacuum treatment and an additional evaporation step, we are able to produce substrates in a relatively short time (36 h). These substrates show a nanometer sized structure over an area of 0.5 cm². The automation of the cleaning process and a controlled heating during the annealing increases the yield of high-quality, stepped substrates. These structures allowed us to study the behavior of ultra-thin polystyrene films on topographically structured substrates. The film thickness of some nanometers is comparable to the radius of gyration of the polymers. The substrate corrugation causes a regular variation of the film thickness. We start with a homogeneous film, which is annealed above the glass transition temperature. During annealing the films are stable or form long polymer nanochannels, which lie in the grooves of the substrate structure. The balance of the radius of gyration and the film thickness controls the stability of the polymer film, while the corrugation only triggers the dewetting. The same behavior is found for films on flat substrates. Here small contaminations nucleate the formation of holes. Evaporation of gold stripes and their modification with self assembled monolayers leads to chemical patterned substrates. This expands the possibilities to manipulate the substrate wettability on the nanometer scale. The second part of the thesis describes the formation of ordered structures in block copolymer films. ABC triblock copolymers show a large variety of morphologies in thin films. We have shown that surface reconstructions play an important role in the structure formation process of these structures. In very thin films, where the film thickness is smaller than the long period of the polymer's micro domains, confinement effects overlap with the surface effects. The component with the lowest surface energy is accumulated at the free surface. It needs a subtle balance between the different surface energies (external fields) and the interaction of the three polymer blocks (internal fields) to create a surface reconstruction. This was shown by variation of the chemistry of the end block and by changing the sequence of blocks in the experiment. To analyze the surface reconstruction we used selective staining along with scanning electron microscopy, selective etching in oxygen plasma in combination with scanning probe microscopy, as well as quantitative TappingMode atomic force microscopy. Surface reconstructions of block copolymers show remarkable similarities with reconstructions of single crystal surfaces. In both cases the driving force for a rearrangement is the decrease in surface free energy of the ideal surface. A second analogy between the lamella forming SBM triblock copolymer and Si(100) is the fact that two non-equivalent layers of matter aligned parallel to the free surface lead to two different terminations at the surface. This shows that the phenomenon of surface reconstructions is not limited to classic crystals. The results of this thesis give new insights in the behavior of polymers at surfaces and in thin films. This gives the opportunity to create or manipulate nanometer sized structures accurately via self assembly, external stimuli, or a combination of both.