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Issue 1, 2018
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Pathway-engineering for highly-aligned block copolymer arrays

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While the ultimate driving force in self-assembly is energy minimization and the corresponding evolution towards equilibrium, kinetic effects can also play a very strong role. These kinetic effects, such as trapping in metastable states, slow coarsening kinetics, and pathway-dependent assembly, are often viewed as complications to be overcome. Here, we instead exploit these effects to engineer a desired final nano-structure in a block copolymer thin film, by selecting a particular ordering pathway through the self-assembly energy landscape. In particular, we combine photothermal shearing with high-temperature annealing to yield hexagonal arrays of block copolymer cylinders that are aligned in a single prescribed direction over macroscopic sample dimensions. Photothermal shearing is first used to generate a highly-aligned horizontal cylinder state, with subsequent thermal processing used to reorient the morphology to the vertical cylinder state in a templated manner. Finally, we demonstrate the successful transfer of engineered morphologies into inorganic replicas.

Graphical abstract: Pathway-engineering for highly-aligned block copolymer arrays

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Article information

15 Aug 2017
06 Dec 2017
First published
06 Dec 2017

Nanoscale, 2018,10, 416-427
Article type

Pathway-engineering for highly-aligned block copolymer arrays

Y. Choo, P. W. Majewski, M. Fukuto, C. O. Osuji and K. G. Yager, Nanoscale, 2018, 10, 416
DOI: 10.1039/C7NR06069F

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