By Seth Darling and Muruganathan Ramanathan (Argonne National Laboratory, Center for Nanoscale Materials)
Seen through a microscope, this thin, smooth film is made up of polymers, or molecule chains, that spontaneously assemble themselves into circular patterns. The color changes represent different thicknesses in the film, which could be used in materials for better data storage for computers and energy technologies such as solar cells.
An optical micrograph of a hybrid organic-organometallic block copolymer thin film cast on a silicon nitride membrane substrate. These materials are being explored for use in the low-cost fabrication of various nanoscale dot, post and wire arrays.
Published as Materials Today cover, September 2009.
Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory.