Research objectives and content
It is planned to study ordering phenomena in thin films of hybrid block copolymers with an liquid crystalline block and an isotropic one. Positional order will be probed by x-ray reflectometry (at synchrotron sources and using a rotating anode at AMOLF) and atomic force microscopy. In this way complementary pictures in reciprocal and real space are obtained. In thin films with blocks of about equal size a uniform lamellar structure can be formed. It is proposed to vary the interaction between the LC block and the substrate such that the thin film morphology can be used for nanotechnology. For example, if a nematic LC block can be anchored in a uniform direction parallel to the substrate (a common geometry in nematic LC displays), a parallel orientation of the lamellae could be obtained. By crosslinking one of the blocks and chemically etching away the other one, it would in principle be possible to use the intrinsic block period to obtain nanopatterns. In particular also ferroelectric smectic C* liquid crystalline blocks could be used to obtain possibly switchable nano-patterns.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The methods mentioned and the concepts of positional and orientational allow for fundamental investigations and practical applications of a wide range of new soft materials. In this sense the post-doc period is expected to be a good basis for a future industrial job in polymer physics. Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
The ability to control and tailor the physical and chemical properties of surfaces is a key to the practical use of (soft) condensed matter. The proposal aims at exploiting tandem interaction between the two intrinsic ordering principles. Quite generally within the framework of the ongoing industrial process of miniaturisation, it will be the use of such intrinsic processes that sets new possibilities.