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Ferroelectric Polymer Thin Film Templates for the Growth of Nanostructures Utilizing Scanning Probe Technology to Exploit the Ferroelectric and Photoconductive Properties of Poly(vinylidene fluoride)


PI: C. Gray Rankin & D. Bonnell

Poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) has been widely studied for its interesting piezoelectric, ferroelectric and pyroelectric properties. It offers a number of advantages over its oxide counterparts including: flexibility, ease and safety in production and disposal, and relatively small cost. Here, scanning probe is used to orient crystalline ferroelectric domains in PVDF films, allowing for a domain selective photoreduction reaction to occur at the film surface. It is possible to grow gold nanostructures on PVDF in predetermined surface locations, leading to opportunities for new nanoscale devices and sensors.

This result required all of the following:

  1. Understanding and optimizing PVDF film growth parameters
  2. Development of a heat treatment to form the ferroelectric phase of PVDF
  3. Use of scanning probe to orient and image patterned ferroelectric domains
  4. Tunneling AFM(TUNA) to probe local electrical characteristics


An electric field supplied by a scanning probe tip can pole selected areas of a PVDF film, forming stable ferroelectric domains.

UV irradiation results in the generation of carriers in PVDF, which can take part in a photoreduction reaction at the surface.

The kinetics of this reaction depend highly on the orientation of the ferroelectric domain on the PVDF surface.




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