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Latent Alignment in Pathway-Dependent Ordering of Block Copolymer Thin Films

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Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973, United States
Cite this: Nano Lett. 2015, 15, 8, 5221–5228
Publication Date (Web):July 10, 2015
Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract Image

    Block copolymers spontaneously form well-defined nanoscale morphologies during thermal annealing. Yet, the structures one obtains can be influenced by nonequilibrium effects, including processing history or pathway-dependent assembly. Here, we explore various pathways for ordering of block copolymer thin films, using oven-annealing, as well as newly disclosed methods for rapid photothermal annealing and photothermal shearing. We report the discovery of an efficient pathway for ordering self-assembled films: ultrarapid shearing of as-cast films induces “latent alignment” in the disordered morphology. Subsequent thermal processing can then develop this directly into a uniaxially aligned morphology with low defect density. This deeper understanding of pathway-dependence may have broad implications in self-assembly.

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    Wide-area SEM images of aligned and latent states, including quantification of order, along with images of the stages of alternate ordering pathways, are provided. Graphs of the energetics of BCP ordering are also included. The Supporting Information is available free of charge on the ACS Publications website at DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b01463.

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