The European Physical Journal E

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 369–375 | Cite as

A solution concentration dependent transition from self-stratification to lateral phase separation in spin-cast PS:d-PMMA thin films

  • A. D. F. DunbarEmail author
  • P. Mokarian-Tabari
  • A. J. Parnell
  • S. J. Martin
  • M. W. A. Skoda
  • R. A. L. Jones
Regular Article


Thin films with a rich variety of different nano-scale morphologies have been produced by spin casting solutions of various concentrations of PS:d-PMMA blends from toluene solutions. During the spin casting process specular reflectivity and off-specular scattering data were recorded and ex situ optical and atomic force microscopy, neutron reflectivity and ellipsometry have all been used to characterise the film morphologies. We show that it is possible to selectively control the film morphology by altering the solution concentration used. Low polymer concentration solutions favour the formation of flat in-plane phase-separated bi-layers, with a d-PMMA-rich layer underneath a PS-rich layer. At intermediate concentrations the films formed consist of an in-plane phase-separated bi-layer with an undulating interface and also have some secondary phase-separated pockets rich in d-PMMA in the PS-rich layer and vice versa. Using high concentration solutions results in laterally phase-separated regions with sharp interfaces. As with the intermediate concentrations, secondary phase separation was also observed, especially at the top surface.


Atomic Force Microscopy PMMA Pulse Neutron Slab Model High Concentration Solution 
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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. D. F. Dunbar
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. Mokarian-Tabari
    • 2
  • A. J. Parnell
    • 2
  • S. J. Martin
    • 3
  • M. W. A. Skoda
    • 4
  • R. A. L. Jones
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Process EngineeringUniversity of SheffieldLoughboroughUK
  2. 2.Department of Physics & AstronomyUniversity of SheffieldLoughboroughUK
  3. 3.Department of MaterialsLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  4. 4.ISIS Pulsed Neutron and Muon Source, S.T.F.C.Rutherford Appleton LaboratoryDidcotUK

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