We demonstrated a polymeric thin film fabrication process in which molecular-scale crystallization proceeds with additive film growth, by employing an innovative vapor-assisted deposition process termed matrix-assisted pulsed laser evaporation (MAPLE). In comparison to solution-casting commonly adopted for the deposition of polymer thin films, this physical vapor deposition (PVD) methodology can prolong the time scale of film formation and allow for the manipulation of temperature during deposition. For the deposition of molecular and atomic systems, such a PVD manner has been demonstrated to facilitate molecular ordering and delicately manipulate crystalline morphology during film growth. Here, using MAPLE, we deposited thin films of a model polymer, poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), atop a temperature-controlled substrate with an average growth rate of less than 10 nm/h. The mechanism of deposition is sequential addition of nanoscale liquid droplets. We discovered that the deposition process leads to the formation of two-dimensional (2D) PEO crystals, composed of monolamellar crystals laterally grown from larger nucleus droplets. The 2D crystalline coverage and crystal thickness of the films can be manipulated with two processing parameters, deposition time, and temperature.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Materials Chemistry