• block copolymers;
  • crystallization;
  • nucleation


We present results on the use of ellipsometry as a novel probe for the crystallization kinetics in thin films of a diblock copolymer. Ellipsometry makes use of the change in polarization induced upon the reflection of light from a film-covered substrate to enable the calculation of the refractive index and thickness of the film. The information obtained with these measurements can be compared with information from differential scanning calorimetry, with the additional advantages that small sample volumes and slow cooling rates can be employed and that expansion coefficients can be determined. By studying the temperature dependence of these quantities, we are able to measure the crystallization kinetics within very small volumes (∼10−10 L) of a poly(butadiene-b-ethylene oxide) diblock copolymer. Through a comparison of two different poly (ethylene oxide) block lengths, we demonstrate a reduction in both the crystallization and melting temperatures as the domain volume is reduced. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 44: 3448–3452, 2006