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Rev Sci Instrum. 2013 Feb;84(2):023905. doi: 10.1063/1.4793226.

Demonstration of glass transition temperature shift in thin supported polystyrene films by internal reference method.

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Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


An internal reference method is used for the first time to clearly demonstrate the glass transition temperature (Tg) depression effect in 5 nm thick polystyrene films spin-cast on silicon wafers. Initially flat films exhibit depressed Tg at approximately 85 °C. Temperature-induced dewetting on hexamethyldisilazane-treated silicon substrates leads to formation of discontinuous films with average effective thickness of 15-30 nm. Dewetted films demonstrate Tg close to the bulk value (≈ 100 °C) and are used as internal references. Data both for continuous and discontinuous films are obtained in the same experimental run for the same sample, which allows direct comparison between datasets. Phase-modulated ellipsometry in vacuum is used to monitor glass transition. Both traditional linear temperature scan method and a novel temperature modulated technique have been employed in the measurements.

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