Influence of molecular architecture on the dewetting of thin polystyrene films.
The control of dewetting for thin polymer films is a technical challenge and of significant academic interest. We have used polystyrene nanoparticles to inhibit dewetting of high molecular weight, linear polystyrene, demonstrating that molecular architecture has a unique effect on surface properties. Neutron reflectivity measurements were used to demonstrate that the nanoparticles were uniformly distributed in the thin (ca. 40 nm) film prior to high temperature annealing, yet after annealing, they were found to separate to the solid substrate, a silanized silicon wafer. Dewetting was eliminated when the nanoparticles separated to form a monolayer or above while below this surface coverage the dewetting dynamics was severely retarded. Blending linear polystyrene of similar molecular weight to the polystyrene nanoparticle with the high molecular weight polystyrene did not eliminate dewetting.