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Generating Functional Nanoscale Soft Materials Using Block Copolymers (invited presentation)

T.H. Epps III
University of Delaware, US

Keywords: block copolymers, nanostructure, processing, membranes, nanoscale


As future technological progress necessitates the design and control of nanoscale devices, new methods for the facile creation of smaller features must be discovered. One sub-class of soft material, block copolymers, provides the opportunity to design materials with attractive chemical and mechanical properties based on the ability to assemble into periodic structures with nanoscale domain spacings. Two areas of recent research in the group involve: (1) manipulating interfacial composition in block copolymers to control self-assembly and processing conditions for membrane applications, and (2) generating gradient substrates and “free” surfaces for examination of thin films block copolymers for coatings and nanotemplate applications. In the first area, we are manipulating the chemistry between blocks to control ordering transitions in diblock copolymers and triblock copolymers. As an example of recent work, we have designed a series of copolymers that show substantial decreases in the order-disorder transition temperature (processing temperature), while maintaining both the co-continuous nanoscale morphologies and the desired mechanical properties. In the second area, we are manipulating polymer thin film interfacial interactions using solvent vapor gradient methods and surface energy gradient substrates to generate platforms that permit rapid screening of the surface/polymer interactions necessary to induce the desired nanostructure orientations.
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