Ordering dynamics in symmetric PS-b-PMMA diblock copolymer thin films during rapid thermal processing†
The pattern coarsening dynamics in symmetric polystyrene-b-polymethylmethacrylate (PS-b-PMMA) block copolymer thin films under conventional thermal treatments is extremely slow, resulting in limited correlation length values even after prolonged annealing at relatively high temperatures. This study describes the kinetics of symmetric block copolymer microphase separation when subjected to a thermal treatment based on the use of a Rapid Thermal Processing (RTP) system. The proposed methodology allows self-organization of symmetric PS-b-PMMA thin films in few seconds, taking advantage of the amount of solvent naturally trapped within the film during the spinning process. Distinct and self-registered morphologies, coexisting along the sample thickness, are obtained in symmetric PS-b-PMMA samples, with periodic lamellae laying over a hexagonal pattern of PMMA cylinders embedded in the PS matrix and perpendicularly oriented with respect to the substrate. The ordering dynamics and morphological evolution of the coexisting dual structures are delineated and the intimate mechanism of the self-assembly and coarsening processes is discussed and elucidated.