Monomer diffusion assisted preparation of polymer gratings : a nuclear microprobe study

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Polymers with an ordered molecular structure can be applied in optical systems for e.g. data transport, data storage and displays. Patterned UV photo-polymerization is used to prepare polymer gratings from a mixture of two acrylate monomers. A 3 MeV proton microprobe is used to study these gratings, prepared from two different monomers, each containing a different easily detectable label element, e.g. Cl, Si or F. During the preparation process, the difference in reactivity and mobility of these two monomers in combination with polymer–monomer interaction results in diffusion of monomers. Since this diffusion process takes place on length scales of micrometers, a scanning ion microprobe is a powerful tool for the quantitative analysis of the polymer films, obtained after complete polymerization. The microprobe is equipped with PIXE, PIGE and RBS, to quantify both the label elements and C and O. This makes it possible to determine the concentration of monomer units as a function of position and thus to study the diffusion process. Two combinations of different monomers are studied. In the case of a 0.5:1 mixture of a monofunctional and a difunctional monomer, both monomers migrate to the illuminated areas and large thickness variations are observed. When a 1:1 mixture of two difunctional monomers is used, opposite migration of the two monomers is observed, while the film shows no variation in thickness.


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