Solvent vapor annealing of block copolymer thin films: removal of processing history
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The ordering processes of PS-b-P2VP block copolymer thin films with different processing histories were studied during solvent vapor annealing by in situ grazing incidence small-angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS). We compared cylinder-forming PS-b-P2VP thin films with 34 kg/mol molecular weight that were prepared in three different ways: spin coating, spin coating and subsequent solvent vapor annealing where the solvent vapor was removed instantaneously, and spin coating and subsequent solvent vapor annealing where the solvent vapor was removed slowly. Block copolymer thin films retained the morphology resulting from the different “processing histories” at smaller swelling ratios. This processing history was erased when the samples reached a higher swelling ratio (~1.4). After the solvent was slowly removed from the swollen film, the surface morphology was characterized by ex situ AFM. All samples showed the same morphology after solvent annealing regardless of the initial morphology, indicating the morphology of solvent annealed samples is determined by the polymer concentration in the swollen film and the solvent vapor removal rate, but not the processing history.