Nanoimprint Lithography for Functional Polymer Patterning
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Organic semiconductors have generated huge interested in recent years for low-cost and flexible electronics. Current and future device applications for semiconducting polymers include light-emitting diodes, thin-film transistors, photovoltaic cells, chemical and biological sensors, photodetectors, lasers, and memories. The performance of conjugated polymer devices depends on two major factors: the chain conformation in polymer film and the device architecture. Highly ordered chain structure usually leads to much improved performance by enhancing interchain interaction to facilitate carrier transport. The goal of this research is to improve the performance of organic devices with the nanoimprint lithography. The work begins with the controlling of polymer chain orientation in patterned nanostructures through nanoimprint mold design and process parameter manipulation, and studying the effect of chain ordering on material properties. After that, step-and-repeat thermal nanoimprint technique for large-scale continuous manufacturing of conjugated polymer nanostructures is developed. The actual chain orientation of molecular groups in polymer micro- and nanostructures patterning by nanoimprint is complicated. However, this information is crucial for intelligently controlling the electrical and photophysical properties of conjugated polymers by nanoimprint. Systematic investigation of polymer chain configuration by Raman spectroscopy is carried out to understand how nanoimprint process parameters, such as mold pattern size, temperature, and polymer molecular weight, affects polymer chain configuration. The results indicate that chain orientation in nanoimprinted polymer micro- and nanostructures is highly related to the nanoimprint temperature and the dimensions of the mold structures. The ability to create nanoscale polymer micro- and nanostructures and manipulate their internal chain conformation establishes an original experimental platform that enables studying the properties of functional polymers at the micro- and nanoscale and understanding their fundamental structure-property relationships. In addition to the impact on basic research, the techniques developed in this work are important in applied research and development. Large-area conjugated polymer micro- and nanostructures can be easily fabricated by thermal step-and-repeat nanoimprint for organic flat-panel displays, organic circuits and organic solar panels. The ability to manipulate chain orientation through nanoimprint presents a new route to fine-tune the electrical and photophysical properties of conjugated polymers, which can lead to improved performance for all organic electronics. The techniques developed here also allow for easy incorporation of other micro- and nanoscale soft functional polymers in miniaturized devices and systems for new applications in electronics, photonics, sensors and bioengineering.
Cui, Dehu (2011). Nanoimprint Lithography for Functional Polymer Patterning. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from