The control of structure and thermal stability in semicrystalline polymer films remains an important challenge in applications ranging from solar energy devices to packaging films. Here, we demonstrate the ability to dramatically alter the morphology and melting temperature (Tm) of low-molecular-weight linear polyethylene (PE) by employing an innovative vapor-assisted deposition process termed matrix assisted pulsed laser evaporation (MAPLE). We report the ability to tune Tm of PE films by 20 °C by simply adjusting the deposition temperature during MAPLE processing. This unique capability stems from the ability of MAPLE to exploit confined crystallization during thin film growth. In addition, we demonstrate the ability to exploit MAPLE to design PE films that exhibit the same Tm as their melt-crystallized analogues but have an ∼25% higher degree of crystallinity. Our investigation offers new insights into how confinement effects in polymer crystallization can be utilized in the emerging field of polymer film fabrication by MAPLE to control structure and key material properties of semicrystalline polymer films.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Materials Chemistry