Rational solvent selection strategies to combat striation formation during spin coating of thin films

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Striation defects in spin-coated thin films are a result of unfavorable capillary forces that develop due to the physical processes commonly involved in the spin-coating technique. Solvent evaporation during spinning causes depletion at the surface of the more volatile solution components while simultaneous viscous out-flow occurs providing the main source of solution thickness reduction during any typical spinning run. The composition changes in the surface layer can either stabilize or destabilize the surface with respect to convective motions within the coating solution. Destabilization (and therefore possible striation formation) happens when the surface composition changes so that a larger surface tension will develop. Thus, a careful cross-referencing of solvent volatility with surface tension effects can help establish solution conditions that will prevent this instability from arising. A plot of solvent vapor pressure (Pv) versus solvent surface tension (σ) is introduced and utilized to help discuss the impact of solvent choice when making coatings via spin coating. One important result is that when desiring to deposit a coating having a surface tension of σsolid, then it is favorable to use a fully miscible solvent that has a higher surface tension (i.e., σliquid > σsolid). More complicated solution mixtures were also examined, including dual-solvent systems and water-containing systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1154
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Materials Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)

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