Understanding Metal Oxides Growth Within Polymer Films

Neta Shomrata, Functional Nanostructures and Advanced Imaging Lab, The Wolfson Department of Chemical Engineering, Technion, Haifa, Israel
Tamar Segal-Peretz, Functional Nanostructures And Advanced Imaging Lab, The Wolfson Department Of Chemical Engineering, Technion, Haifa, Israel

Sequential Infiltration Synthesis (SIS) is a novel approach based on atomic layer deposition (ALD) that enables growth of inorganic materials inside polymer films and polymeric nanostructures (figure 1). Utilization of the polymer nanostructure as a three-dimensional “incubator” for inorganic materials growth not only adds degrees of freedom for the design and fabrication of nanostructures but can also be harnessed for creating hybrid organic-inorganic materials with synergic properties. While SIS is a promising process, there is still a gap in the fundamental understanding of diffusion and growth of inorganic materials within polymers and their evolution with time.

To shed light on the SIS mechanism, the growth of Al2O3 in various homopolymer films was studied. SIS was conducted in an ALD chamber with in-situ mass uptake monitoring using quartz crystal microbalance (QCM), followed by ex-situ SEM and TEM characterization. The mass uptake measurements showed an initial rapid growth, followed by a slower increase in mass. The strong correlation between the exposure time and mass growth which was observed in the rapid growth regime indicates a diffusion-limited growth within the polymer. Comparison between homopolymers showed similar time-growth trend but with different mass gain due to their dissimilar chemistry. The growth process as a function of polymer structure was studied on a block polymer (BCP) system including thorough comparison between growth kinetics in BCP vs homopolymer systems. This work provides a fundamental understanding that can pave the way to new hybrid organic-inorganic and inorganic 3D nanostructures.

 Figure 1: Schematic illustrations of the SIS process in (a) homopolymer and (b) block copolymer


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