Advanced Functional Materials

Cover image for Vol. 28 Issue 3

16_15/2006Cover Picture: Toward Large-Scale Alignment of Electrohydrodynamic Patterning of Thin Polymer Films (Adv. Funct. Mater. 15/2006)

By integrating lithography and self-assembly via electrohydrodynamic instabilities, Russel and co-workers are able to guide initially flat polymer films to evolve into periodic arrays of pillars over regions much greater in extent than their natural domain sizes, as detailed on p. 1992. Novel structures that involve a combination of linear ridges and pillars are also produced, mainly as as result of the dynamic merging among preformed pillars.

To pattern thin polymer films via electrohydrodynamic instabilities, we design and utilize two different kinds of mask patterns to guide pillars into alignment over regions much greater in extent than their natural domain sizes. First, narrow protruding ridges that intersect to form regular patterns on the mask trigger the growth of pillars beneath. Later, square and triangular packings of pillars develop in the regions enclosed by those ridges, preserving the registry from one domain to the next over a much larger area than within individual domains in unpatterned portions of the mask. Second, small square protrusions that are prealigned into a large regular array on the mask guide the formation of square packings of pillars in domains that conform to the mask, forming a large array of pillars. Novel structures involving a combination of linear ridges and pillars are also produced mainly due to the dynamic merging among preformed pillars. Finally, we find vertex symmetry of the mask pattern is necessary for generating and preserving ordered patterns on the polymer film.

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