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Real-Time Shape Evolution of Nanoimprinted Polymer Structures during Thermal Annealing

Ronald L. Jones, Tengjiao Hu, Christopher L. Soles, Eric K. Lin, Ronald M. Reano, Stella W. Pang, Diego M. Casa

6 (8), July, 1723-1728 (2006).
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The real-time shape evolution of nanoimprinted polymer patterns is measured as a function of annealing time and temperature using critical dimension small-angle X-ray scattering (CD-SAXS). Periodicity, line width, line height, and sidewall angle are reported with nanometer resolution for parallel line/space patterns in poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) both below and above the bulk glass transition temperature (T-G). Heating these patterns below T-G does not produce significant thermal expansion, at least to within the resolution of the measurement. However, above T-G the fast rate of loss in pattern size at early times transitions to a reduced rate in longer time regimes. The time-dependent rate of polymer flow from the pattern into the underlying layer, termed pattern "melting", is consistent with a model of elastic recovery from stresses induced by the molding process.

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