Porous Polymer Films Templated by Marangoni Flow-induced Water Droplet Arrays

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2009


In this article, we report the development of a novel, simple, and cost-effective method for fabricating porous polymer films with controllable interpore distances, pore sizes, and arrangements using water droplets induced by Marangoni flow as templates. First, a spread-thin ethanol film on a partially water-wettable substrate is exposed to a humid airflow, facilitating the evaporation and recession of the ethanol film. Meanwhile, water in the airflow condenses on the ethanol film and accumulates near the receding contact line, which induces the formation of water fingers at the receding contact line and, finally, ordered arrays of water droplets after detachment. The formation of the hexagonal and square arrays of water droplets is due to the pinning and sliding of the water fingers on the silicone oxide (SiOx) and silicon (Si) substrates, respectively. By varying the thickness of the ethanol film spread on the Si substrate, the sliding velocity of water fingers can be tuned, subsequently leading to the fabrication of other arrangements. The interdroplet distance and droplet size can be dependently controlled by tuning the humidity of the airflow. The ordered arrays of water droplets on the substrate are then utilized to fabricate porous polymer films by dip-coating the substrate with a polystyrene solution. Films with hexagonal and square (and other arrangements) arrays of pores are fabricated on the silicon oxide (SiOx) and silicon (Si) substrates, respectively. The pore size can also be independently tuned by further condensation or evaporation of formed water droplets, leading to porous polymer films with both close- and non-close-packed arrays of pores. The ordered porous polymer films can be further used as templates for fabricating metal post patterns.





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