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Influence of solvent and molecular weight in wrinkle formation in spin-cast polystyrene thin films

1 College of Biological and Chemical Engineering, Guangxi University of Science and Technology, No. 268 Donghuan Road, Chengzhong District, Liuzou, Guangxi, 545006, P. R. China
2 Key Laboratory for Processing of Sugar Resources of Guangxi Higher Education Institutes, Guangxi University of Science and Technology, Liuzhou 545006, P. R. China
3 Department of Chemistry, 140 Flagg Road, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, 02881, USA

Topical Section: Thin films, surfaces and interfaces

The surface morphology of polystyrene thin films formed from various molecular weight polystyrene and solvent conditions is studied. When spin-cast from tetrahydrofuran (THF) wrinkles are formed at the extremities that have periodicity with wavelengths in the μm range and amplitudes in the nm range but varies with molecular weight. A mixed solvent system consisting of THF and dimethylformamide (DMF) leads to periodic structures only with THF-rich compositions. THF and DMF have similar properties relevant to spin-casting: density, surface tension, molecular weight, and viscosity but different boiling points and room temperature vapor pressures, demonstrating that formation periodicity requires a volatile solvent. The formation of the surface structures is attributed to the Marangoni effect and the film thicknesses and wave parameters are shown to be consistent with literature models.
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