Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids

Ultrathin film deposition by liquid CO2 free meniscus coating-uniformity and morphology.

PMID 16401113


Ultrathin organic films of sucrose octaacetate (SOA) were deposited on 12.5 cm diameter silicon wafer substrates using high-pressure free meniscus coating (hFMC) with liquid CO2 (l-CO2) as a coating solvent. The dry film thickness across the wafer and the morphology of deposited films were characterized as a function of coating conditions-withdrawal velocity, solution concentration, and evaporation driving force (deltaP). When no evaporation driving force was applied (deltaP = 0), highly uniform films were deposited with thickness in the range of 8-105 angstroms over the entire concentration range (3-11 wt%). Uniform films were also obtained at low concentrations (3-5 wt%) with a low evaporation driving force (deltaP = 0.0138 MPa). However, films deposited at medium to high concentrations (7-11 wt%) were thicker (110-570 angstroms) and less uniform, with larger nonuniformities at higher applied evaporation driving forces. Optical microscopy and atomic force microscopy (AFM) were used to characterize film morphology including drying defects and film roughness. Films deposited without evaporation had no apparent drying defects and very low root-mean-square (RMS) roughness (1.4-3.8 angstroms). Spinodal-like dewetting morphologies including holes with diameters in the range of 100-300 nm, and surface undulations were observed in films deposited at medium concentration (7 wt%) and low deltaP (0.0138-0.0276 MPa). At higher concentrations and higher evaporative driving forces, spinodal-like dewetting morphologies disappeared but concentric ring defect structures were observed with diameters in the range 20-125 microm. The film thickness and morphology of SOA films deposited from 1-CO2 hFMC were compared to those deposited from toluene and acetone under normal dip coating. Films deposited from l-CO2 hFMC were much thinner, more uniform, and exhibited much fewer drying defects and lower RMS roughness.