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Two-Step Solvent On-Film Annealing (2-SOFA) Method: Fabrication of Anisotropic Polymer Particles and Implications for Colloidal Self-Assembly

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journal contribution
posted on 15.08.2018, 00:00 by Hsiao-Fan Tseng, Yu-Jing Chiu, Bo-Hao Wu, Jia-Wei Li, Jiun-Tai Chen
In recent years, anisotropic polymer particles have gained increased interest owing to their special properties and broader applications, such as drug delivery, optical traps, and e-paper display. Most strategies to produce anisotropic polymer particles, however, require sophisticated instruments or additional surfactants. Here, we develop a simple and versatile method, the two-step solvent on-film annealing (2-SOFA) technique, to make anisotropic polymer particles with different shapes. Polystyrene (PS) microspheres spin-coated on poly­(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) films are chosen as model materials. By sequentially annealing the PS/PMMA composites in different solvent vapors, anisotropic polymer particles with distinctive and diverse shapes can be produced, such as half-eaten-peach-shaped, snowman-shaped, and bowler-hat-shaped morphologies. An exquisite selective removal strategy is applied to check the morphologies of the PS/PMMA composite films and to comprehend the transformation mechanism at different annealing steps and times. For particles merged from multiple microspheres, quantitative studies are also performed to figure out the relationships between the sizes of the merged particles and the numbers of the original microspheres. These results have implications for colloidal self-assembly.