An international research team has created a method for characterizing nanoparticles.

Sequential infiltration synthesis in nanostructured polymers has been studied by researchers from Paderborn University, the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the German National Metrology Institute, the Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM), Italy’s national metrology institute, the Politecnico di Torino, and the Politecnico di Torino.

They want to increase the chances of identifying material characteristics at the smallest length scale. Future computer chips, energy conversion and storage techniques, and molecular sieves, for example, will all require materials with structures in the range of just a few nanometers. The study’s findings have now been presented as the cover article of ACS Applied Polymer Materials.

“In recent years, we have made significant progress in controlling the self-organization of block copolymers.”

Physicist Prof. Jörg Lindner, works with nanostructured block copolymers, 

The group at Paderborn under the direction of Prof. Jörg Lindner uses interconnected polymer chains that “self-organize” into predictable patterns in his work with nanostructured block copolymers, which have a wide range of uses.

In recent years, Lindner claims, “our ability to control the self-organization of block copolymers has made rapid progress.”. However, expanding nondestructive methods for characterizing material properties is necessary to continue this advancement. This is the aim of a larger project that involves the co-authors of three partner institutions: INRiM, Politecnico di Torino, and PTB.

Block copolymers enable the formation of incredibly tiny structures on semiconductor surfaces, facilitating future-oriented processes for further miniaturizing subsequent-generation microelectronic components.

“Since the size of the structures that can be obtained here is only constrained by the length of the polymer chains, they may even be smaller than the structures that are laboriously produced using conventional methods. New measurement techniques and size standards are required in order to analyze smaller structures due to the advancements in miniaturization. Block copolymers can also be useful in this situation, but only after one of the polymer types has been specifically modified to increase the chemical differences between the other polymer types. According to Lindner, it is possible to make nanostructures that can be used to test these new measurement processes by sequentially integrating aluminum oxide.

More information: Eleonora Cara et al, Developing Quantitative Nondestructive Characterization of Nanomaterials: A Case Study on Sequential Infiltration Synthesis of Block Copolymers, ACS Applied Polymer Materials (2023). DOI: 10.1021/acsapm.2c02094

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