Nanobrick wall multilayer thin films grown faster and stronger using electrophoretic deposition.

PMID 25872516


In an effort to speed up the layer-by-layer (LbL) deposition technique, electrophoretic deposition (EPD) is employed with weak polyelectrolytes and clay nanoplatelets. The introduction of an electric field results in nearly an order of magnitude increase in thickness relative to conventional LbL deposition for a given number of deposited layers. A higher clay concentration also results with the EPD-LbL process, which produces higher modulus and strength with fewer deposited layers. A 20 quadlayer (QL) assembly of linear polyethyleneimine (LPEI)/poly(acrylic acid)/LPEI/clay has an elastic modulus of 45 GPa, tensile strength of 70 MPa, and thickness of 4.4 μm. Traditional LbL requires 40 QL to achieve the same thickness, with lower modulus and strength. This study reveals how these films grow and maintain a highly ordered nanobrick wall structure that is commonly associated with LbL deposition. Fewer layers required to achieve improved properties will open up many new opportunities for this multifunctional thin film deposition technique.