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Structure variation and evolution in microphase-separated grafted diblock copolymer films

American Chemical Society
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The phase behavior of grafted d-polystyrene-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) diblock copolymer films is examined, with particular focus on the effect of solvent and annealing time. It was observed that the films undergo a two-step transformation from an initially disordered state, through an ordered metastable state, to the final equilibrium configuration. It was also found that altering the solvent used to wash the films, or complete removal of the solvent prior to thermal annealing using supercritical CO2, could influence the structure of the films in the metastable state, though the final equilibrium state was unaffected. To aid in the understanding to these experimental results, a series of self-consistent field theory calculations were done on a model diblock copolymer brush containing solvent. Of the different models examined, those which contained a solvent selective for the grafted polymer block most accurately matched the observed experimental behavior. We hypothesize that the structure of the films in the metastable state results from solvent enrichment of the film near the film/substrate interface in the case of films washed with solvent or faster relaxation of the nongrafted block for supercritical CO2 treated (solvent free) films. The persistence of the metastable structures was attributed to the slow reorganization of the polymer chains in the absence of solvent.

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