Controlled wetting/dewetting through substrate vibration-assisted spray coating (SVASC)
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We have recently developed a novel spray-coating method, called the “substrate vibration-assisted spray coating” (SVASC) (Zabihi and Eslamian in J Coat Technol Res 12:711–719, 2015), in which ultrasonic vibration is imposed on the substrate to improve the spray-on film and coating characteristics. In that work, the SVASC method was introduced, and its effectiveness on the uniformity and electrical conductivity of PEDOT:PSS films, used in emerging solar cells, was demonstrated. The present work reports unprecedented results on the effect of the ultrasonic vibration power on wetting/dewetting of PEDOT:PSS films. It is observed that, while the application of a low-power ultrasonic vibration (LPUV) improves the surface wetting and film coverage through improving droplet spreading and coalescence and repairing of the dewetted areas, a high-power ultrasonic vibration (HPUV) promotes dewetting, resulting in less coverage and the formation of a nonuniform film. The improved wetting due to the application of the LPUV has opened a window of opportunity for the fabrication of intact thin films and related thin film devices. On the other hand, the controlled dewetting process due to the application of the HPUV may have novel applications in template fabrication and self-assembly in nanotechnology. Here, we also study the effects of the application of multipass spraying compared with single-pass spraying strategy, and the application of using two co-solvents on PEDOT:PSS film characteristics. The results confirm that the utilization of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) as a co-solvent added to the PEDOT:PSS precursor solution improves the surface wettability and film coverage, compared to the films made using demethylformamide (DMF), as the co-solvent.