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Porous polymeric templates obtained from self-assembly of block copolymer for nanofabrication of inorganic porous networks bearing nanopillar arrays for nanofluidic applications
Amongst the growing fields of nanotechnologies, nanofluidics is an area that is in its infancy but is gaining more and more interest. Today, constructing nanofluidic devices remains extremely difficult and is often restricted to single channels. Applications are thus limited to microfluidics, while studying the fundamentals of fluid behavior in nanoconfined environments remains cumbersome. This proposal is centered on the use of block copolymers to create thin polymer films with controlled porosity, which constitutes interesting precursors to a class of novel nanostructured materials adapted to nanofluidics needs. It has been recently shown by the CRMD that these porous polymer media could be used to construct ceramic Pillared Planar Nanochannels (PPN) by chemical replication of the porosity. The strategy consists in preparing first a polystyrene layer bearing perpendicularly ordered nanopores and to replicate these templates using infiltration by sol-gel precursors followed by a thermal treatment. It proves that chemical methods can achieve similar materials to those prepared by physical nanofabrication, but with the extra advantages of being easy, low-cost, easy to scale up, accessible to all and compatible with a myriad of interesting materials achievable by sol-gel chemistry. The research program proposed in the framework of the Studium research program intends to focus on the elaboration of the porous polymer template used in the chemical nanofabrication of these PPN, following two main directions. The first goal of this project will be dedicated to the fundamental aspects of the block copolymer reorganization upon solvent annealing in order to provide a thorough and predictive understanding of the mechanism and kinetics of these ordering processes that is still needed for block polymer systems in general. The second target of this project will be to identify novel block-copolymer structuring agents to directly prepare functionalized PS-based porous systems in order to improve the impregnation step in the PPN construction.