Transient laser heating induced hierarchical porous structures from block copolymer–directed self-assembly

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Science  03 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6243, pp. 54-58
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab0492

Laser patterning polymer membranes

Porous materials are useful for membranes, filters, energy conversion, and catalysis. Their utility often depends on the ability to finely control both the pore sizes and their connectivity. Tan et al. prepared porous thin films of block copolymers mixed with phenol-formaldehyde resins (resols) on silicon substrates using a simple laser process. On exposure to ultraviolet light, rapid heating of the substrate causes polymerization of the resols and decomposition of the block copolymer. This method allows direct patterning of the films on a local scale, with tunable pore sizes and size distributions.

Science, this issue p. 54


Development of rapid processes combining hierarchical self-assembly with mesoscopic shape control has remained a challenge. This is particularly true for high-surface-area porous materials essential for applications including separation and detection, catalysis, and energy conversion and storage. We introduce a simple and rapid laser writing method compatible with semiconductor processing technology to control three-dimensionally continuous hierarchically porous polymer network structures and shapes. Combining self-assembly of mixtures of block copolymers and resols with spatially localized transient laser heating enables pore size and pore size distribution control in all-organic and highly conducting inorganic carbon films with variable thickness. The method provides all-laser-controlled pathways to complex high-surface-area structures, including fabrication of microfluidic devices with high-surface-area channels and complex porous crystalline semiconductor nanostructures.

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