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Structuring the Surface of Crystallizable Polymers with an AFM Tip

Cvetlin Vasilev, Günter Reiter, Khalil Jradi, Sophie Bistac, Marjorie Schmitt. In: "Scanning Probe Microscopy in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology" Part 3, Ed. Bharat Bhushan, "NanoScience and Technology" Series, Springer 2010, ISBN 978-3-642-03534-0


In this chapter, we demonstrate that atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a well-suited technique for manipulating  polymers, in particular for inducing crystallization and for controlling crystal melting. As examples, we present results on the crystallization and melting behavior of highly asymmetric semi-crystalline block copolymers where the crystallizable block is confined in nanometer size mesophase domains and on lowering the crystal nucleation barrier by deforming polymer chain conformations via friction (rubbing) with an AFM tip. In the here discussed studies, the main focus is on questions concerning primary nucleation, morphological reorganization, crystal growth under confinement, non-equilibrium annealing processes, etc., which still remain unsolved despite numerous theoretical and experimental works. As will become clear from these examples, AFM offers unique possibilities for manipulations of polymers at a molecular scale, which affect their behavior on macroscopic scales up to sizes visible with the naked eye.

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