Facile control of long range orientation in mesoporous carbon films with thermal zone annealing velocity†
Ordered mesoporous carbons exhibit appealing properties for many applications, but their function and performance can depend critically on their structure. The in-plane orientation of 2D cylinders from the cooperative assembly of Pluronic P123 and resol has been controlled by application of cold zone annealing (CZA). By varying the moving rate, the preferential in-plane orientation of the self-assembled cylinders can be tuned through the entire 180° range possible from ϕ = 50° to ϕ = −130° (relative to the moving direction). At a moving rate of 2 μm s−1, this simple and easy CZA process leads to cylinders that are well aligned parallel to the moving direction with a high orientational factor of S = 0.98. Moreover, the in-plane oriented cylinders can be nearly perfectly aligned transverse to the moving direction (S = 0.95) by simply decreasing the moving velocity to 0.5 μm s−1. We attribute the parallel alignment to the flow that develops from the motion of the thermal gradients, while the transverse alignment is related to flow cessation (inertial effect). The preferential orientation is retained through the carbonization process, but there is some degradation in orientation due to insufficient crosslinking of the resol during CZA; this effect is most prominent for the higher moving rates (less time for crosslinking), but can be overcome by post-CZA annealing at uniform elevated temperatures to further crosslink the resol. CZA is a simple and powerful method for fabricating well-aligned and self-assembled mesoporous carbon films over large areas.