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Influence of Substrate Wettability on the Morphology of Thin Polymer Films Spin-Coated on Topographically Patterned Substrates

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journal contribution
posted on 25.04.2012, 00:00 by Sudeshna Roy, Khalid Jamal Ansari, Surendra Sasi Kumar Jampa, Pavanaphani Vutukuri, Rabibrata Mukherjee
We show that the morphology of a thin polymer film spin coated directly on to a topographically patterned substrate is strongly influenced by the wettability of the substrate, in addition to other well-known parameters such as concentration of the polymer solution (cn), spin speed (RPM), and spin duration. Similar to spin coating on a flat surface,, on a topographically patterned substrate as well, a continuous film forms only above a critical polymer solution concentration (ct*), for a specific RPM and dispensed drop volume. It is believed that for cn > ct*, the resulting continuous film on a topographically patterned substrate has an undulating top surface, where the surface undulations are in phase with the underlying substrate patterns. On the basis of experiments involving spin coating of polymer thin films on topographically patterned grating substrates, we show that the surface undulations on the film are in phase with the substrate patterns only when the substrate is completely wetted (CW) by the solvent. In contrast, when the substrate is partially wetted (PW) by the solvent, then the undulations are 180° out of phase with respect to the substrate patterns. We further show that for cn < ct*, a variety of ordered and disordered structures, like array of aligned droplets, isolated strips of polymers, etc., result on both CW and PW substrates, depending on cn.