Organic Thin Films Deposited by Emulsion-Based, Resonant Infrared, Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation: Fundamentals and Applications
Thin film deposition techniques are indispensable to the development of modern technologies as thin film based optical coatings, optoelectronic devices, sensors, and biological implants are the building blocks of many complicated technologies, and their performance heavily depends on the applied deposition technique. Particularly, the emergence of novel solution-processed materials, such as soft organic molecules, inorganic compounds and colloidal nanoparticles, facilitates the development of flexible and printed electronics that are inexpensive, light weight, green and smart, and these thin film devices represent future trends for new technologies. One appealing feature of solution-processed materials is that they can be deposited into thin films using solution-processed deposition techniques that are straightforward, inexpensive, high throughput and advantageous to industrialize thin film based devices. However, solution-processed techniques rely on wet deposition, which has limitations in certain applications, such as multi-layered film deposition of similar materials and blended film deposition of dissimilar materials. These limitations cannot be addressed by traditional, vacuum-based deposition techniques because these dry approaches are often too energetic and can degrade soft materials, such as polymers, such that the performance of resulting thin film based devices is compromised.
The work presented in this dissertation explores a novel thin film deposition technique, namely emulsion-based, resonant infrared, matrix-assisted pulsed laser evaporation (RIR-MAPLE), which combines characteristics of wet and dry deposition techniques for solution-processed materials. Previous studies have demonstrated the feasibility of emulsion-based RIR-MAPLE to deposit uniform and continuous organic, nanoparticle and blended films, as well as hetero-structures that otherwise are difficult to achieve. However, fundamental understanding of the growth mechanisms that govern emulsion-based RIR-MAPLE is still missing, which increases the difficulty of using rational design to improve the performance of initial RIR-MAPLE devices that have been demonstrated. As a result, it is important to study the fundamentals of emulsion-based RIR-MAPLE in order to provide insight into the long-term prospects for this thin film deposition technique.
This dissertation explores the fundamental deposition mechanisms of emulsion-based RIR-MAPLE by considering the effects of the emulsion target composition (namely, the primary solvent, secondary solvent, and surfactant) on the properties of deposited polymer films. The study of primary solvent effects on hydrophobic polymer deposition helps identify the unique method of film formation for emulsion-based RIR-MAPLE, which can be described as cluster-by-cluster deposition of emulsified particles that yields two levels of ordering (i.e., within the clusters and among the clusters). The generality of this film formation mechanism is tested by applying the lessons learned to hydrophilic polymer deposition. Based on these studies, the deposition design rules to achieve smooth polymer films, which are important for different device applications, are identified according to the properties of the polymer.
After discussion of the fundamental deposition mechanisms, three applications of emulsion-based RIR-MAPLE, namely thin film deposition of organic solar cells, polymer/nanoparticle hybrid solar cells, and antimicrobial/fouling-release multifunctional films, are studied. The work on organic solar cells identifies the ideal deposition mode for blended films with nanoscale domain sizes, as well as demonstrates the relationships among emulsion target composition, film properties, and corresponding device performance. The studies of polymer/nanoparticle hybrid solar cells demonstrate precise control of colloidal nanoparticle deposition, in which the integrity of nanoparticles is maintained and a distinct film morphology is achieved when co-deposited with polymers. Finally, the application of antimicrobial and fouling-release multifunctional films demonstrates the importance of blended film deposition with nanoscale phase separation, a key feature to achieving reusable bio-films that can kill bacteria when illuminated with ultraviolet light.
Thus, this dissertation provides great insight to the fundamentals of emulsion-based RIR-MAPLE, serves as a valuable reference for future development, and paves the pathway for wider adoption of this unique thin film deposition technique, especially for organic solar cells.
Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation
Organic Solar Cells
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