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Directed ordering of phase separated domains and dewetting of thin polymer blend films on a topographically patterned substrate.


Substrate pattern guided self-organization of ultrathin and confined polymeric films on a topographically patterned substrate is a useful approach for obtaining ordered meso and nano structures over large areas, particularly if the ordering is achieved during film preparation itself, eliminating any post-processing such as thermal or solvent vapor annealing. By casting a dilute solution of two immiscible polymers, polystyrene (PS) and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), from a common solvent (toluene) on a topographically patterned substrate with a grating geometry, we show the formation of self-organized meso patterns with various degrees of ordering. The morphology depends on both the concentration of the dispensed solution (Cn) and the blend composition (RB). Depending on the extent of dewetting during spin coating, the final morphologies can be classified into three distinct categories. At a very low Cn the solution dewets fully, resulting in isolated polymer droplets aligned along substrate grooves (Type 1). Type 2 structures comprising isolated threads with aligned phase separated domains along each substrate groove are observed at intermediate Cn. A continuous film (Type 3) is obtained above a critical concentration (Cn*) that depends on RB. While the extent of ordering of the domains gradually diminishes with an increase in film thickness for Type 3 patterns, the size of the domains remains much smaller than that on a flat substrate, resulting in significant downsizing of the features due to the lateral confinement imposed on the phase separation process by the topographic patterns. Finally, we show that some of these structures exhibit excellent broadband anti-reflection (AR) properties.