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Issue 23, 2012
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Pattern formation induced by an electric field in a polymer–air–polymer thin film system

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Abstract

Strong electric fields produce forces that can overcome the surface tension in thin liquid polymer films and in this way induce an instability of the free surface of the film, that triggers the formation of structures on a micrometer length scale. Here, we study experimentally a polymer–air–polymer system for several combinations of polymer films. These results are accompanied by theoretical considerations based on coupled long-wave time evolution equations for the two free surface profiles. The linear stability and nonlinear time evolution are investigated and compared to the experimental findings. The prediction that the instability always evolves through a mirror mode that couples the two surfaces in an anti-phase manner agrees well with the experimental results. The model describes well the linear (early stage) evolution of the instability. In the non-linear (later stage) evolution, topographical differences in the instability pattern occur if the mobilities of the two layers significantly differ and an unpredicted acceleration of growth is seen in thinner less mobile films. Possible reasons for the mismatch are discussed.

Graphical abstract: Pattern formation induced by an electric field in a polymer–air–polymer thin film system

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Publication details

The article was received on 06 Feb 2012, accepted on 22 Mar 2012 and first published on 10 May 2012


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C2SM25273B
Citation: Soft Matter, 2012,8, 6333-6349
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    Pattern formation induced by an electric field in a polymer–air–polymer thin film system

    G. Amarandei, P. Beltrame, I. Clancy, C. O'Dwyer, A. Arshak, U. Steiner, D. Corcoran and U. Thiele, Soft Matter, 2012, 8, 6333
    DOI: 10.1039/C2SM25273B

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