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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2004 Oct;70(4 Pt 1):041601. Epub 2004 Oct 21.

Cylindrically symmetric electrohydrodynamic patterning.

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  • 1Department of Electrical Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, USA.


Cylindrically symmetric structures such as concentric rings and rosettes arise out of thin polymeric films subjected to strong electric fields. Experiments that formed concentric rings and theory capable of explaining these and other cylindrical structures are presented. These rings represent an additional member of a class of structures, including pillars and holes, formed by electrohydrodynamic patterning of thin films, occasionally referred to as lithographically induced self-assembly. Fabrication of a set of concentric rings begins by spin coating a thin poly(methyl methacrylate) film onto a silicon wafer. A mask is superimposed parallel to the film leaving a similarly thin air gap. Electric fields, acting in opposition to surface tension, destabilize the free interface when raised above the glass transition temperature. Central pillars nucleate under small cylindrical protrusions patterned on the mask. Rings then emerge sequentially, with larger systems having as many as 10 fully formed rings. Ring-to-ring spacings and annular widths, typically on the order of a micron, are approximately constant within a concentric cluster. The formation rate is proportional to the viscosity and, consequently, has the expected Williams-Landel-Ferry dependence on temperature. In light of these developments we have undertaken a linear stability analysis in cylindrical coordinates to describe these rings and ringlike structures. The salient feature of this analysis is the use of perturbations that incorporate their radial dependence in terms of Bessel functions as opposed to the traditional sinusoids of Cartesian coordinates. The theory predicts approximately constant ring-to-ring spacings, constant annular widths, and growth rates that agree with experiment. A secondary instability is observed at higher temperatures, which causes the rings to segment into arcs or pillar arrays. The cylindrical theory may be generalized to describe hexagonal pillar/hole packing, gratings, and rosettes with the first being of particular importance given the ubiquitous observation of hexagonal packing. The perturbation analysis presented here is relevant to any system with cylindrical symmetry, for which the radial dependence can be described in terms of Bessel functions.

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