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New Approach to Characterizing Nanomaterials

Researchers from Paderborn University, the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the National Metrology Institute of Germany, the Politecnico di Torino, Italy, and the Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM), Italy’s national metrology institute, have investigated sequential infiltration synthesis in nanostructured polymers.

Prof. Jörg Linder from Paderborn University. Image Credit: Paderborn University

In doing so, they want to increase the likelihood of characterizing material properties at the smallest scale. Future computer chips, energy conversion and storage techniques, and molecular sieves, will all require materials with structures in the range of just a few nanometers. The study’s results have now been featured as the cover article in ACS Applied Polymer Materials.

The team at Paderborn led by researcher Prof. Jörg Lindner works with nanostructured block copolymers, which are interlinked polymer chains that can “self-organize” into regular patterns, facilitating a wide range of applications.

Controlling the self-organization of block copolymers has advanced rapidly in recent years.

Our ability to control the self-organization of block copolymers has made rapid progress in recent years.

Dr. Jörg Lindner, Professor, Nanostructuring - Nanoanalytics - Photonic Materials, Paderborn University

To continue this progress, nondestructive techniques for characterizing material properties must be expanded as part of a larger initiative comprising co-authors from partner institutions INRiM, Politecnico di Torino, and PTB.

Block copolymers enable future-oriented processes for further miniaturizing next-generation microelectronic components by enabling the development of incredibly small structures on semiconductor surfaces.

Dr. Lindner stated, “The structure sizes that can be achieved here are limited only by the length of the polymer chains, so they can be even smaller than the structures that are laboriously produced through conventional techniques. The advances in miniaturization also create a need for new measurement methods and size standards so that smaller structures can be analyzed.

Block copolymers can help here, too—but only after the chemical differences between the involved polymer types are increased by selectively modifying one of the polymers. Selectively integrating aluminum oxide using sequential infiltration synthesis makes it possible to create nanostructures that can be used to test these new measurement processes,” Dr. Lindner concluded.

The projects 16ENV07 AEROMET and 19ENV08 AEROMET II provided funding for a part of this study. These projects have funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program in addition to the EMPIR program, which is co-financed by the Participating States.

Journal Reference:

Cara, E., et al. (2023) Developing Quantitative Nondestructive Characterization of Nanomaterials: A Case Study on Sequential Infiltration Synthesis of Block Copolymers. ACS Applied Polymer Materials. doi:10.1021/acsapm.2c02094.


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