Insights into the influence of solvent polarity on the crystallization of poly(ethylene oxide) spin-coated thin films via in situ grazing incidence wide-angle X-ray scattering

Daniel T W Toolan, Anna Isakova, Richard Hodgkinson, Nik Reeves-McLaren, Oliver S. Hammond, Karen J. Edler, Wuge H. Briscoe, Thomas Arnold, Tim Gough, Paul D. Topham, Jonathan R. Howse

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Abstract

Controlling polymer thin-film morphology and crystallinity is crucial for a wide range of applications, particularly in thin-film organic electronic devices. In this work, the crystallization behavior of a model polymer, poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), during spin-coating is studied. PEO films were spun-cast from solvents possessing different polarities (chloroform, THF, and methanol) and probed via in situ grazing incidence wide-angle X-ray scattering. The crystallization behavior was found to follow the solvent polarity order (where chloroform <THF <methanol) rather than the solubility order (where THF > chloroform > methanol). When spun-cast from nonpolar chloroform, crystallization largely followed Avrami kinetics, resulting in the formation of morphologies comprising large spherulites. PEO solutions cast from more polar solvents (THF and methanol) do not form well-defined highly crystalline morphologies and are largely amorphous with the presence of small crystalline regions. The difference in morphological development of PEO spun-cast from polar solvents is attributed to clustering phenomena that inhibit polymer crystallization. This work highlights the importance of considering individual components of polymer solubility, rather than simple total solubility, when designing processing routes for the generation of morphologies with optimum crystallinities or morphologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4579-4586
Number of pages8
JournalMacromolecules
Volume49
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2016

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    Toolan, D. T. W., Isakova, A., Hodgkinson, R., Reeves-McLaren, N., Hammond, O. S., Edler, K. J., Briscoe, W. H., Arnold, T., Gough, T., Topham, P. D., & Howse, J. R. (2016). Insights into the influence of solvent polarity on the crystallization of poly(ethylene oxide) spin-coated thin films via in situ grazing incidence wide-angle X-ray scattering. Macromolecules, 49(12), 4579-4586. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.macromol.6b00312