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Surface analysis of layered polymer brushes

Project Description

One of the most exciting new features on our recently installed state-of-the-art XPS spectrometer is the capacity for depth-profiling of delicate organic polymeric materials. Preliminary experiments suggest that XPS depth-profiling may provide adequate depth resolution to analyse materials as delicate as polymer brushes with thicknesses of a few tens of nm. In this method, argon gas clusters to remove material layer-by-layer, while the composition and bonding are monitored using XPS. In this project, a series of polymer brushes will be prepared. These will consist of homopolymers of varying thicknesses and copolymers, prepared using atom-transfer radical polymerisation (ATRP),7-8 which gives exceptionally good control of polymer film thickness. Using methods that we recently reported, based on the control of solvent quality as a means to control the depth of penetration of reagents,8-9 brushes will be cross-linked and derivatised9 using a variety of different approaches and the resulting systems used as models to explore the depth resolution of XPS depth-profiling. Nanomechanical measurements will also be made on these systems using AFM, and patterned, layered structures will be characterised using a combination of XPS, imaging SIMS and AFM.

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded project. The applicant should have or expect to gain at least an upper second class degree, or equivalent overseas qualification, in a relevant subject.

If you have the correct qualifications and access to your own funding, either from your home country or your own finances, your application to work with this supervisor will be considered.

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