Orienting Block Copolymer Thin Films via Entropy


Controlling the orientation of nanostructured thin films of block copolymers (BCPs) is essential for next-generation lithography using BCPs. According to conventional wisdom, the orientation of BCP thin films is mainly determined by molecular interactions (enthalpy-driven orientation). Here, we show that the entropic effect can be used to control the orientation of BCP thin films. Specifically, we used the architecture of star-block copolymers consisting of polystyrene (PS) and poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) blocks to regulate the entropic contribution to the self-assembled nanostructures. The study unequivocally demonstrate that for star-block copolymers with the same volume fractions of PS and PDMS, perpendicularly oriented BCP nanostructures could be induced via an entropic effect regulated by the number of arms. Also, the feasibility of using the star-block copolymer thin films for practical applications is demonstrated by using the thin film as a mask for nanolithography or as a template for the fabrication of nanoporous monolith.
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