Rapid microstructure characterization of polymer thin films with 2D-array multifocus Raman microspectroscopy†
Raman imaging is one of the very informative methods for the characterization of chemically and structurally heterogeneous materials without employing specific molecular labels. Multifocus Raman imaging is one of the fast-imaging alternatives to the conventional single point mapping technique. Since multiple focal points probe the sample simultaneously, this imaging methodology is faster compared to single point mapping. We have further demonstrated the efficiency of this methodology by investigating the morphological features of a porous PMMA film. A Raman image of a 50 × 50 μm2 area was obtained in less than 4 minutes (with a 10 × 10 multifocus configuration). Importantly, a 100 × 100 μm2 area could now be analyzed in minutes while a similar Raman image by single point mapping would take hours to days. Optical sectioning using multifocus Raman imaging reveals unique hierarchical features of the porous polymer thin film. Larger pores are limited to the surface and the inner bulk exhibits characteristic small-pores and an interconnected highly porous morphology. The fast multifocal Raman imaging would be advantageous to the diverse field of scientific disciplines where the speed of image acquisition remains a challenge despite the unparalleled specificity and sensitivity of Raman spectroscopy.