Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Faculty Research


Study of the Surface Morphology of Polyisobutylene-based Block Copolymers by Atomic Force Microscopy

Document Type


Publication Date



This paper reports the investigation of the nanostructured surface morphology of linear polystyrene-block-polyisobutylene-block-polystyrene (SIBS) triblock copolymers and novel arborescent SIBS block copolymers by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) in the tapping mode. Thin films spin coated from toluene onto silicon wafers were studied. The nanostructured morphology of the block copolymers varied with the hard polystyrene (PS) and soft polyisobutylene (PIB) segment composition, ranging from spherical to lamellar nanometer-sized discreet PS phases dispersed in a continuous PIB matrix. Annealing the samples resulted in well developed/ordered structures. The arborescent blocks had irregularly distributed PS phases in the PIB matrix. Annealing had a dramatic effect on the morphology which still remained irregular. Three-dimensional AFM image and section analysis indicated the presence of a height difference between PIB (high-lying plateaus or hills) and PS (low-lying plateaus or valleys) in the block copolymers, which became more prominent during annealing. It is theorized that the rubbery PIB chains are able to relax, thereby protruding from the surface, anchored by the physically crosslinked PS phases.

Publication Title

Macromolecular Symposia





First Page


Last Page