Surface structure of thin film blends of polystyrene and poly(n -butyl methacrylate)
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Thin films of blends of polystyrene (PS) and poly(n-butyl methacrylate) (PBMA) were prepared by spin-casting onto silicon wafers in order to map the lateral distribution of the two polymers. The surfaces were examined by atomic force microscopy (AFM) secondary ion mass spectroscopy X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and photoemission electron microscopy (PEEM). Films with PBMA contents of 50% w/w or less were relatively smooth, but further increase in the PBMA content produced, initially, protruding PS ribbons and then, for PBMA ≥80% w/w, isolated PS islands. At all concentrations the topmost surface (0.5–1.0 nm) was covered by PBMA, whilst the PBMA concentration in the near-surface region, measured by XPS, increased with bulk content to eventual saturation. PEEM measurements of a PS–PBMA film at the composition at which ribbon features were observed by AFM also showed a PS-rich ribbon structure surrounded by a sea of mainly PBMA.