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Distinguishing spinodal and nucleation phase separation in dewetting polymer films

Authors Tsui, OKC
Du, B.
Xie, F.
Wang, YJ
Yan, H.
Yang, Z.
Issue Date 2003
Source NANO SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: NOVEL STRUCTURES AND PHENOMENA , Edited by Ping Sheng, Zikang Tang 2003, p. 187-192
Summary It is a common experience that liquid films on non-wetting surfaces may dewet and break up into liquid droplets. Despite of its ordinariness, the physics of this phenomenon is not fully understood. Specifically, it cannot be resolved whether these thin films rupture by a spinodal mechanism or heterogeneous nucleation. In this paper, we report a simple experiment by which we resolved this controversy unambiguously. In our approach, small height fluctuations were artifically introduced to the thin film samples by mechanically rubbing the film surface with a velvet cloth before dewetting takes place. Since the characteristic length of the dewettng pattern of polymer films that dewet by nucleation should depend on the density of surface defects introduced, but that of the films dewetting by a spinodal process should be relatively unaffected, one should be able to unambiguously identify which of the two dewetting mechanisms have in fact dominated in the rupturing of a given film simply by comparing its dewetting morphologies with and without the rubbing-induced defects.
ISBN 0-415-30832-1
Language English
Format Conference paper
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