Defect-free nanoporous thin films from ABC triblock copolymers.
The self-assembly of triblock copolymers of poly(ethylene oxide-b-methyl methacrylate-b-styrene) (PEO-b-PMMA-b-PS), where PS is the major component and PMMA and PEO are minor components, provides a robust route to highly ordered, nanoporous arrays with cylindrical pores of 10−15 nm that show promise in block copolymer lithography. These ABC triblock copolymers were synthesized by controlled living radical polymerization, and after solvent annealing, thin films showing defect-free cylindrical microdomains were obtained. The key to the successful generation of highly regular, porous thin films is the use of PMMA as a photodegradable mid-block which leads to nanoporous structures with an unprecedented degree of lateral order. The power of using a triblock copolymer when compared to a traditional diblock copolymer is evidenced by the ability to exploit and combine the advantages of two separate diblock copolymer systems, the high degree of lateral ordering inherent in PS-b-PEO diblocks plus the facile degradability of PS-b-PMMA diblock copolymer systems, while negating the corresponding disadvantages, poor degradability in PS-b-PEO systems and no long-range order for PS-b-PMMA diblocks.