Controlling the Orientation of Nanowrinkles and Nanofolds by Patterning Strain in a Thin Skin Layer on a Polymer Substrate


  • This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (CMMI-1069180, patterning holes), the Office of Naval Research (N00014-13-1-0172, nanowrinkle process), and the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research (ANSER) Center (DE-SC0001059, wavelength studies). It was conducted with Government support under Grant FA9550-05-C-0059 (M.D.H., 32 CFR 168a). M.D.H. and C.J.E. acknowledge support from a Ryan Fellowship. For these studies, we made use of the NUANCE Center facilities, which are supported by NSF-MRSEC, NSF-NSC, and the MRSEC (Grant DMR-1121262).


We describe herein how to control the orientation of polymer nanowrinkles and nanofolds with large amplitudes. Nanowrinkles were created by chemically treating thermoplastic polystyrene sheets to form a thin skin layer and then heating the substrate to relieve strain. By manipulating the strain globally and locally in the skin layer, we could tune whether wrinkles or folds formed, as well as the distances over which these structures could be produced. This unique materials system provided access to high strain regimes, which enabled mechanisms behind the spontaneous formation of complex structures to be explored.