Tuning the microstructure of pulsed laser deposited polymer–metal nanocomposites
Pulsed laser deposition was used to grow complex polymer–metal nanocomposites consisting of Ag, Cu and Nb clusters embedded in a poly(methyl-methacrylate) (PMMA) matrix. During deposition at room temperature, the size and amount of the metal clusters can be tuned in different ways. First, it is controlled by the number of laser pulses hitting the respective targets. In the case of Ag, a bimodal size distribution of the clusters is observed, induced by total coalescence and secondary nucleation processes. For Cu and Nb, much smaller clusters and higher cluster densities are obtained due to a stronger reactivity with the polymer and thus a lower diffusivity in the PMMA. Additionally, the microstructure of the Ag clusters is affected by the degree of cross linking of the polymer and can be influenced by pre-deposition of nucleation seeds in the form of small Cu clusters.
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