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Characterization of Thin Polymer Blend Films using ESEM – No Charging, No Staining.

  • Ian C. Bache (a1), Catherine M. Ramsdale (a1), D. Steve Thomas (a1), Ana-Claudia Arias (a1), J. Devin MacKenzie (a1), Richard H. Friend (a1), Neil C. Greenham (a1) and Athene M. Donald (a1)...


Characterising the morphology of thin films for use in device applications requires the ability to study both the structure within the plane of the film, and also through its thickness. Environmental scanning electron microscopy has proved to be a fruitful technique for the study of such films both because contrast can be seen within the film without the need for staining (as is conventionally done for electron microscopy), and because cross-sectional images can be obtained without charging artefacts. The application of ESEM to a particular blend of relevance to photovoltaics is described.



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1. Arias, A C, MacKenzie, J, Stevenson, R et al., “Photovoltaic Performance and Morphology of Polyfluorene Blends: A Combined Microscopic and Photovoltaic Investigation,” Macromolecules 34, 6005–13 (2001).
2. Arias, A-C, “Conjugated polymer phase separation and three dimensional thin film structure for photovoltaics,” PhD, Cambridge University, 2001.
3. Danilatos, G D, “Review and outline of environmental SEM at present,” J. Microscopy 162, 391402 (1990).
4. Stokes, D J, Thiel, B L, and Donald, A M, “Direct observation of water-oil emulsion systems in the liquid stated by environmental SEM,” Langmuir 14, 4402–8 (1998).


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