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Connecting Monotonic and Oscillatory Motions of the Meniscus of a Volatile Polymer Solution to the Transport of Polymer Coils and Deposit Morphology

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posted on 04.09.2018 by Mohammad Abo Jabal, Ala Egbaria, Anna Zigelman, Uwe Thiele, Ofer Manor
We study the deposition mechanisms of polymer from a confined  meniscus of volatile liquid. In particular, we investigate the physical processes that are responsible for qualitative changes in the pattern deposition of polymer and the underlying interplay of the state of pattern deposition, motion of the meniscus, and the transport of polymer within the meniscus. As a model system we evaporate a solution of poly­(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) in toluene. Different deposition patterns are observed when varying the molecular mass,  the initial concentration of the solute, and temperature; these  are systematically presented in the form of morphological phase diagrams. The modi of deposition and meniscus motion are correlated. They vary with the ratio between the evaporation-driven convective flux and the diffusive flux of the polymer coils in the solution. In the case of a diffusion-dominated solute transport, the solution monotonically dewets the solid substrate by evaporation, supporting continuous contact line motion and continuous polymer deposition. However, a convection-dominated transport results in an oscillatory ratcheting dewetting–wetting motion of the contact line with more pronounced dewetting phases. The deposition process is then periodic and produces a stripe pattern. The oscillatory motion of the meniscus differs from the well documented stick–slip motion of the meniscus, observed as well, and is attributed to the opposing influences of evaporation and Marangoni stresses, which alternately dominate the deposition process.