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Solvent-Engineered Stress in Nanoscale Materials

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-11-21, 00:00 authored by Shaun Mills, Chiara Rotella, Eoin K. McCarthy, David J. Hill, Jing-Jing Wang, John F. Donegan, James F. Cahoon, John E. Sader, John J. Boland
Nanoscale materials are frequently coated with surface stabilization layers during growth that prevent flocculation in solution and facilitate processing technologies such as ink-jet device printing. Here, we show that few-nanometer-thick stabilization layers typically used swell in the presence of certain solvents and impart significant stresses to the nanomaterial that remains even after the solvent has evaporated. Solvent swelling of the surface layer dramatically enhances nanomaterial–substrate adhesion via the collapse of the stabilization layer during solvent evaporation, preventing stress relaxation. We demonstrate the stress modulation of Ag, Au, and Si nanowires functionalised with surface polymers and surfactant layers and detect strain levels between 0.1 and 0.6% using atomic force microscopy mechanical measurement and Raman spectroscopy. Dry-transferred nanowires exhibit poor adhesion and show no evidence of incorporated stress but become stressed immediately following solvent exposure. Strain engineering is demonstrated by coating nanowires with few-nanometer-thick solvent-responsive polymer layers.