Directed Self-Assembly of Star-Block Copolymers by Topographic Nanopatterns through Nucleation and Growth Mechanism


Exploring the ordering mechanism and dynamics of self‐assembled block copolymer (BCP) thin films under confined conditions are highly essential in the application of BCP lithography. In this study, it is aimed to examine the self‐assembling mechanism and kinetics of silicon‐containing 3‐arm star‐block copolymer composed of polystyrene (PS) and poly(dimethylsiloxane) blocks as nanostructured thin films with perpendicular cylinders and controlled lateral ordering by directed self‐assembly using topographically patterned substrates. The ordering process of the star‐block copolymer within fabricated topographic patterns with PS‐functionalized sidewall can be carried out through the type of secondary (i.e., heterogeneous) nucleation for microphase separation initiated from the edge and/or corner of the topographic patterns, and directed to grow as well‐ordered hexagonally packed perpendicular cylinders. The growth rate for the confined microphase separation is highly dependent upon the dimension and also the geometric texture of the preformed pattern. Fast self‐assembly for ordering of BCP thin film can be achieved by lowering the confinement dimension and also increasing the concern number of the preformed pattern, providing a new strategy for the design of BCP lithography from the integration of top‐down and bottom‐up approaches.
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