Block copolymer-mediate assembly

23. Block copolymer-nanorod assembly 1    41. co-assembly of B'-type nanorods in A-B block copolymers

New properties arise when metallic and semiconductor nanoparticles are organized into periodic arrays. Block copolymers, being inherently structured materials, are superb matrix materials for organizing nanoparticles. We study how block copolymers and nanoparticles co-assemble, what affect the resulting structure, and how to control it.

Michman, E. ; Oded, M. ; Shenhar, R. Dual Block Copolymer Morphologies in Ultrathin Films on Topographic Substrates: The Effect of Film Curvature. Polymers 2022, 14, 2377. DOIAbstract

The ability to create mixed morphologies using easily controlled parameters is crucial for the integration of block copolymers in advanced technologies. We have previously shown that casting an ultrathin block copolymer film on a topographically patterned substrate results in different deposited thicknesses on the plateaus and in the trenches, which leads to the co-existence of two patterns. In this work, we highlight the dependence of the dual patterns on the film profile. We suggest that the steepness of the film profile formed across the plateau edge affects the nucleation of microphase-separated domains near the plateau edges, which influences the morphology that develops on the plateau regions. An analysis of the local film thicknesses in multiple samples exhibiting various combinations of plateau and trench widths for different trench depths enabled the construction of phase diagrams, which unraveled the intricate dependence of the formed patterns not only on the curvature of the film profile but also on the fraction of the film that resides in the trenches. Our analysis facilitates the prediction of the patterns that would develop in the trenches and on the plateaus for a given block copolymer film of known thickness from the dimensions of the topographic features.

64. Elisheva curvature effect

Muzaffar-Kawasma, R. ; Oded, M. ; Shenhar, R. Assembly of Semiconductor Nanorods into Circular Arrangements Mediated by Block Copolymer Micelles. Materials 2022, 15, 2949. DOIAbstract

The collective properties of ordered ensembles of anisotropically shaped nanoparticles depend on the morphology of organization. Here, we describe the utilization of block copolymer micelles to bias the natural packing tendency of semiconductor nanorods and organize them into circularly arranged superstructures. These structures are formed as a result of competition between the segregation tendency of the nanorods in solution and in the polymer melt; when the nanorods are highly compatible with the solvent but prefer to segregate in the melt to the core-forming block, they migrate during annealing toward the core–corona interface, and their superstructure is, thus, templated by the shape of the micelle. The nanorods, in turn, exhibit surfactant-like behavior and protect the micelles from coalescence during annealing. Lastly, the influence of the attributes of the micelles on nanorod organization is also studied. The circular nanorod arrangements and the insights gained in this study add to a growing list of possibilities for organizing metal and semiconductor nanorods that can be achieved using rational design.

62.Riham Polymers 2022

This paper was selected by the Editorial Board as a Featured Paper!

Eren, N. ; Burg, O. ; Michman, E. ; Popov, I. ; Shenhar, R. Gold Nanoparticle Arrays Organized in Mixed Patterns Through Directed Self-assembly of Ultrathin Block Copolymer Films on Topographic Substrates. Polymer 2022, 245, 124727. DOIAbstract

Controlling complexity in assemblies of metal and semiconductor nanoparticles has the potential to expand the utilization of photonic devices into wavelength regimes that are currently inaccessible. Here we show that casting ultrathin films of asymmetric block copolymers on topographically defined substrates affords four types of mixed patterns through fine control of film thickness. Analysis of top-view and cross-sectional images revealed different morphological behavior of the film in the trench and on the plateau, which was explained by the difference in the type of boundary imposed by each topographic feature. Exposed domains were chemically modified and selectively decorated with gold nanoparticles, giving rise to nanoparticle superstructures with mixed patterns in a controlled fashion. We envisage utilization of such hierarchical superstructures as plasmon waveguides and metasurfaces.

61. Noga Polymer 2022

Burg, O. ; Sanguramath, R. A. ; Michman, E. ; Eren, N. ; Popov, I. ; Shenhar, R. Periodic Nanowire Arrays with Alternating Compositions and Structures Fabricated using a Simultaneous Nanowire Formation Step. Soft Matter 2021, 17, 9937-9943. DOIAbstract

Arrays of alternating metallic nanostructures present hybrid properties, which are useful for applications in photonics and catalysis. Block copolymer films provide versatile templates for fabricating periodic arrays of nanowires. Yet, creating arrays with alternating compositions or structures requires different modifications of domains of the same kind. By controlling the penetration depth of metal precursors into the film we were able to impregnate different layers of copolymer cylinders with different metals. Capitalizing on the hexagonal packing of the cylinders led to simultaneous formation of nanowires with alternating compositions and periodic arrangement on the substrate after plasma etching. Selective deposition of nanoparticles on the film enabled creating alternating bare and decorated nanowires, as well as trimetallic nanowire arrays.

Aviv, Y. ; Altay, E. ; Rzayev, J. ; Shenhar, R. Assembly of Bottlebrush Block Copolymers and Nanoparticles in Ultrathin Films: Effect of Substrate-Copolymer Interaction on the Nanocomposite Morphology. Macromolecules 2021, 54, 6247–6256.Abstract

Bottlebrush block copolymers offer unique advantages for polymer-nanoparticle assembly, arising from the stiffness of their backbones and the compositional tunability afforded by the lengths of the grafts in each block independently. The morphologies of ultrathin bottlebrush block copolymer films are extremely sensitive to the chemistry of the substrate. Modifying the substrate with a polymer brush that corresponds to one of the blocks of the bottlebrush copolymer leads to different, often non-bulk morphologies that relate to the interaction of the copolymer with the substrate, which is dictated by the bottlebrush polymer composition. In this work, we investigate the assembly of bottlebrush block copolymers of different compositions with gold nanoparticles, which are modified with polymeric ligands that correspond to one of the blocks. Our results show that the net interaction of the copolymer with the substrate influences the self-assembly process, leading to two types of routes: the co-assembly route, in which the nanoparticles are organized by the polymer into periodic structures, or macrophase separation. In the co-assembly route, selective substrates slightly distort the shape of the domains. The nanoparticles, in turn, influence the kinetics of the process by their interaction with the substrate.

58. Yaron Macromol 2021

Aviv, Y. ; Altay, E. ; Burg, O. ; Müller, M. ; Rzayev, J. ; Shenhar, R. Bottlebrush Block Copolymer Assembly in Ultraconfined Films: Effect of Substrate Selectivity. Macromolecules 2021, 54, 2079-2089.Abstract

Ultraconfined block copolymer films present non-bulk structures that are highly sensitive to film thickness and are strongly influenced by the wetting properties of the substrate. Here we describe the self-assembly of bottlebrush block copolymers with varying side-chain lengths on different types of substrates. Our results show a pronounced influence of the nature of the substrate on the self-assembled morphology and the surface patterns that evolve during solvent-vapor annealing. In particular, we observe by experiments and simulations a transient, substrate-driven morphology of cylinder-like structures obtained in films of doubly symmetric (i.e., backbone and side-chains) bottlebrush block copolymer despite the general tendency of these polymers to form lamellar structures. The insights gained from this study highlight the ability to use the substrate chemistry for inducing the formation of unique morphologies in bottlebrush block copolymer films.

57. Yaron Macromolecules 2021

Diaz, J. ; Pinna, M. ; Zvelindovsky, A. V. ; Pagonabarraga, I. ; Shenhar, R. Block Copolymer–Nanorod Co-assembly in Thin Films: Effects of Rod–Rod Interaction and Confinement. Macromolecules 2020, 53, 3234-3249.Abstract

Simulations and experiments of nanorods (NRs) show that co-assembly with block copolymer (BCP) melts leads to the formation of a superstructure of side-to-side NRs perpendicular to the lamellar axis. A mesoscopic model is validated against scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of CdSe NRs mixed with polystyrene-block-poly(methyl methacrylate). It is then used to study the co-assembly of anisotropic nanoparticles (NPs) with a length in the same order of magnitude as the lamellar spacing. The phase diagram of BCP/NP is explored as well as the time evolution of the NR. NRs that are slightly larger than the lamellar spacing are found to rotate and organize side-to-side with a tilted orientation with respect to the interface. Strongly interacting NPs are found to dominate the co-assembly, while weakly interacting nanoparticles are less prone to form aggregates and tend to form well-ordered configurations.

56.Javier's BCP-NR simulations

Michman, E. ; Langenberg, M. ; Stenger, R. ; Oded, M. ; Schvartzman, M. ; Müller, M. ; Shenhar, R. Controlled spacing between nano-patterned regions in block copolymer films obtained by utilizing substrate topography for local film thickness differentiation. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2019, 11, 35247-35254. DOIAbstract

Various types of devices require hierarchically nano-patterned substrates, where spacing between patterned domains is controlled. Ultra-confined films exhibit extreme morphological sensitivity to slight variations in film thickness when the substrate is highly selective toward one of the blocks. Here, it is shown that using the substrate’s topography as a thickness differentiating tool enables the creation of domains with different surface patterns in a fully controlled fashion from a single, unblended block copolymer. This approach is applicable to block copolymers of different compositions and to different topographical patterns, and thus opens numerous possibilities for hierarchical construction of multifunctional devices.

55. Controlled spacing between patterned domains by epitaxial DSA

Aviv, Y. ; Altay, E. ; Fink, L. ; Raviv, U. ; Rzayev, J. ; Shenhar, R. Quasi-Two-Dimensional Assembly of Bottlebrush Block Copolymers with Nanoparticles in Ultrathin Films: Combined Effect of Graft Asymmetry and Nanoparticle Size. Macromolecules 2019, 52, 196-207.Abstract

Block copolymer guided assembly of nanoparticles leads to the formation of nanocomposites with periodic arrangement of nanoparticles, which are important for applications such as photonic devices and sensors. However, linear block copolymers offer limited control over the internal arrangement of nanoparticles inside their hosting domains. In contrast, bottlebrush block copolymers possess unique architectural attributes that enable additional ways to control the local organization of nanoparticles. In this work, we studied the coassembly of 8 and 13 nm gold nanoparticles with three bottlebrush block copolymers differing in the asymmetry of their graft lengths. Assembly was performed in ultraconfined films, where it occurs quasi-two-dimensionally. Our results indicate that graft asymmetry could be used as an additional tool to enhance nanoparticle ordering by forcing them to localize at the center of the domain regardless of their size. This behavior is analyzed in terms of the influence of the graft asymmetry on the average conformations of the blocks.

54. Bottlebrush block copolymers nanoparticle assembly

Michman, E. ; Shenhar, R. Directed self-assembly of block copolymer-based nanocomposites in thin films. Polymers for Advanced Technologies 2017, 28, 613-622.Abstract

Exploiting the full potential of metal and semiconductor nanoparticles for advanced nanotechnological applications requires their organization into predefined structures with high orientational control. Nanofabrication approaches that combine high resolution lithography and self-assembly afford the advantages of accurate placement, compositional diversity, and reduced production costs. This review concentrates on the creation of organized nanoparticle superstructures assisted by recent developments in the directed self-assembly of block copolymers, and delineates possible applications. Copyright (C) 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Halevi, A. ; Halivni, S. ; Oded, M. ; Müller, A. H. E. ; Banin, U. ; Shenhar, R. Co-Assembly of A-B Diblock Copolymers with B'-type Nanoparticles in Thin Films: Effect of Copolymer Composition and Nanoparticle Shape. Macromolecules 2014, 47, 3022-3032.Abstract

The coassembly of A B diblock copolymers with B'-type nanoparticles (i.e., nanoparticles that are slightly incompatible with the B domain) leads to hierarchical structures, where the block copolymer phase separates first and the nanoparticles create close-packed arrays within the B domains due to a slower, secondary phase separation process. Here we report the results of a comprehensive study, which focused on two aspects: the influence of the nanoparticle shape (spherical vs rod-like) and the effect of the volume composition of the blocks. Three polystyrene-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) (PS-b-PMMA) copolymers featuring similar molecular weights but differing in PS volume fraction were mixed with spherical and rod-shaped poly(ethylene oxide)- (PEO-) capped CdS nanoparticles at different filling fractions and cast as thin films. Our results highlight the mutual influence between the block copolymer and the nanoparticles on the resulting morphology, demonstrating the ability to control the film morphology by the filling fraction of the nanoparticles and their tendency to localize at the film surface, and by confinement-induced nanoparticle aggregation. Most importantly, the results reveal the influence of the nanoparticle shape on the structure of the film.

41. co-assembly of B'-type nanorods in A-B block copolymers

This paper was highlighted in Advances in Engineering!

Ploshnik, E. ; Langner, K. M. ; Halevi, A. ; Ben-Lulu, M. ; Müller, A. H. E. ; Fraaije, J. G. E. M. ; Agur Sevink, G. J. ; Shenhar, R. Hierarchical Structuring in Block Copolymer Nanocomposites through Two Phase-Separation Processes Operating on Different Time Scales. Advanced Functional Materials 2013, 23, 4215-4226.Abstract

Tailoring the size and surface chemistry of nanoparticles allows one to control their position in a block copolymer, but this is usually limited to one-dimensional distribution across domains. Here, the hierarchical assembly of poly(ethylene oxide)-stabilized gold nanoparticles (Au-PEO) into hexagonally packed clusters inside mesostructured ultrathin films of polystyrene-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) (PS-b-PMMA) is described. A close examination of the structural evolution at different nanoparticle filling fractions and PEO ligand molecular weights suggests that the mechanism leading to this structure-within-structure is the existence of two phase separation processes operating on different time scales. The length of the PEO ligand is shown to influence not only the interparticle distances but also the phase separation processes. These conclusions are supported by novel mesoscopic simulations, which provide additional insight into the kinetic and thermodynamic factors that are responsible for this behavior.

38. co-assembly of B'-nanoparticles with A-B block copolymers

Liedel, C. ; Pester, C. W. ; Ruppel, M. ; Lewin, C. ; Pavan, M. J. ; Urban, V. S. ; Shenhar, R. ; Bösecke, P. ; Böker, A. Block Copolymer Nanocomposites in Electric Fields: Kinetics of Alignment. ACS Macro Letters 2013, 2 53-58.Abstract

We investigate the kinetics of block copolymer/nanoparticle composite alignment in an electric field using in situ transmission small-angle X-ray scattering. As a model system, we employ a lamellae forming polystyrene-block-poly(2-vinyl pyridine) block copolymer with different contents of gold nanoparticles in thick films under solvent vapor annealing. While the alignment improves with increasing nanoparticle fraction, the kinetics slows down. This is explained by changes in the degree of phase separation and viscosity. Our findings provide extended insights into the basics of nanocomposite alignment.

36. kinetics of nanocomposite alignment under E-field

Pavan, M. J. ; Shenhar, R. Two-dimensional nanoparticle organization using block copolymer thin films as templates. Journal of Materials Chemistry 2011, 21, 2028-2040.Abstract

The creation of ordered nanoparticle assemblies is one of the main prerequisites for the utilization of nanoparticles in advanced device applications. However, while considerable progress has been made in the precision synthesis of high quality, uniform nanoparticles of different compositions, sizes and shapes, our ability to organize them into ordered structures still faces major challenges. This Feature Article focuses on a facile approach developed in recent years for the fabrication of two-dimensionally organized nanoparticle assemblies, which is based on patterning as a simple and straightforward assembly mechanism and on block copolymer films as easily created templates.

28. Mariela JMC 2011

This paper was identified as a "Hot Feature Article" for JMC (view their blog!)

Ploshnik, E. ; Salant, A. ; Banin, U. ; Shenhar, R. Hierarchical Surface Patterns of Nanorods Obtained by Co-Assembly with Block Copolymers in Ultrathin Films. Advanced Materials 2010, 22, 2774-2779.Abstract

Co-assembly of cadmium selenide nanorods in block copolymer films gives rise to anisotropic, hierarchical nanorod superstructures at the film surface. Unlike their observed behavior in the bulk composite, the nanorods preferentially orient perpendicular to the direction of the block copolymer domain, and the number of nanorods assembled across the domain is controlled by the ratio between the nanorod length and the domain width.

23. block copolymer-nanorod assembly 1

Ploshnik, E. ; Salant, A. ; Banin, U. ; Shenhar, R. Co-assembly of block copolymers and nanorods in ultrathin films: effects of copolymer size and nanorod filling fraction. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 2010, 12, 11885-11893.Abstract

Two-dimensional, hierarchical assemblies of nanorods were obtained by exploiting the structures afforded by block copolymers in ultrathin films. Under the appropriate conditions, the nanorods segregate to the film surface already upon casting the composite film, and organize with the block copolymer through phase separation. In this paper we compare the structures formed by CdSe nanorods of three different lengths and two polystyrene-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) copolymers with different nanorods/copolymer ratios, and study the temporal evolution of the structure in each case. It is found that the initial morphology of the film largely dictates the resulting structure. The combination of short nanorods and/or short copolymers is shown to be more prone to morphological defects, while assembling long nanorods with long copolymers leads to highly organized nanorod morphologies. These phenomena are explained by a combination of kinetic and thermodynamic factors.

24. Elina PCCP 2010

Kletenik-Edelman, O. ; Ploshnik, E. ; Salant, A. ; Shenhar, R. ; Banin, U. ; Rabani, E. Drying-mediated hierarchical self-assembly of nanoparticles: A dynamical coarse-grained approach. Journal of Physical Chemistry C 2008, 112, 4498-4506.Abstract

A coarse-grained lattice gas model is developed to study the drying-mediated self-assembly of nanoparticles on diblock copolymer substrates. The model describes the nanoparticles, the solvent and the diblock copolymer on length scales that are typical to the solvent bulk correlation length. Monte Carlo simulation techniques are used to delineate the various mechanisms of this out-of-equilibrium hierarchical self-assembly. Several different assembly scenarios corresponding to different selectivity of the nanoparticles/liquid/substrate are discussed. The role of surface tension, evaporation rate, diffusion rate, nanoparticle, coverage, and diblock copolymer periodicity is explored. Optimal conditions to form a stripe phase of nanoparticles along with predictions of novel 3D structures resulting from high nanoparticle and solvent selectivity are described.

16. Rabani JPCC 2008

Shenhar, R. ; Jeoung, E. ; Srivastava, S. ; Norsten, T. B. ; Rotello, V. M. Crosslinked nanoparticle stripes and hexagonal networks obtained via selective patterning of block copolymer thin films. Advanced Materials 2005, 17, 2206-2210.Abstract

Robust arrays of ordered nanoparticles (see Figure and cover) have been created by combining two self‐assembly strategies: microphase separation of block copolymers and coordination chemistry. Thin films of a microphase‐separated block copolymer serve as templates for patterning of terpyridine‐functionalized gold nanoparticles. Subsequent treatment with iron salts crosslinks the patterned nanoparticles via the formation of iron–terpyridine complexes.

14. Advanced Materials 2005   Advanced Materials 2005

Shenhar, R. ; Norsten, T. B. ; Rotello, V. M. Polymer-mediated nanoparticle assembly: Structural control and applications. Advanced Materials 2005, 17, 657-669.Abstract

Nanoparticle-polymer composites are diverse and versatile functional materials, with applications ranging from electronic device fabrication to catalysis. This review focuses on the use of chemical design to control the structural attributes of polymer-mediated assembly of nanoparticles. We will illustrate the use of designed particles and polymers to create nanocomposites featuring interesting and pragmatic structures and properties. We will also describe applications of these engineered materials.

16. Polymer-mediated nanoparticle assembly