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Nanoscale Indentation of Polymer and Composite Particles by Atomic Force Microscopy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2011

Silvia Armini
Affiliation:, IMEC/KULeuven, SPDT/AMPS/CMP, Kapeldreef, 75, Leuven, Belgium, 3001, Belgium, 0032-16-288617, 0032-16-281576
Ivan U. Vakarelski
Affiliation:, Kyoto University-Katsura, Kyoto, 615-8510, Japan
Caroline M. Whelan
Affiliation:, IMEC, SPDT/NANO, Leuven, 3001, Belgium
Karen Maex
Affiliation:, KU Leuven, Leuven, 3001, Belgium
Ko Higashitani
Ko Higashitani [], Kyoto University-Katsura, Kyoto, 615-8510, Japan
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Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) was employed to probe the mechanical properties of surface-charged polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)-based terpolymer and a composite terpolymer core-silica shell nanosphere in air and water media. Since these materials exhibit enhanced mechanical properties, such as toughness and elasticity, and enhanced chemical stability, they are particularly interesting for potential applications in reducing defectivity during the process of Chemical Mechanical Planarization. The polymer particles were subjected to a thermal treatment aimed at improving their mechanical properties in terms of hardness (H) and elastic modulus (E). By analysis of force-displacement curves and on the basis of Hertz's theory of contact mechanics, Young's moduli were measured for the terpolymer compared with the composite that has expected mechanical property enhancement due to its silica shell. In air, E increases from 4.3 GPa to 6.6 GPa for the treated terpolymer compared with the respective value of 10.3 GPa measured for the composite. In water, E increases from 1.6 GPa to 4.5 GPa for the thermally treated terpolymer that is comparable with the respective value of 3.6 GPa measured for the composite. This observation suggests that as an alternative to the creation of polymer-silica composite nanoparticles for CMP, comparable mechanical properties can be achieved by a simple heat treatment step.

Research Article
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2006

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