Molecular engineering strategies to control photo-induced birefringence and surface-relief gratings on layer-by-layer films from an azopolymer
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The interactions governing adsorption of layer-by-layer (LBL) films from an azopolymer, PS-119(R), and poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) have been controlled by modifying the pH of the solutions used to form the films. The thickness per bilayer was varied by one order of magnitude, from 10 to 240 A, as the pH changed from 4 to 10. Thick layers were formed at higher pHs because in this case the PAH is only partially charged adopting a loopy conformation. This change in molecular conformation caused the kinetics of isomerization and mass transport to be much slower than at lower pHs. The writing time defined as the time to achieve 50% of maximum birefringence dropped from 110 to 18 min for films prepared from solutions with pH 10 and pH 4, respectively. This decrease is probably due to the higher free volume for isomerization in the films prepared at lower pHs, in which PAH molecules are less coiled than at higher pHs. For the same reason, the rate of inscription of surface-relief gratings with an interference pattern of p-polarized light was also much slower at higher pHs. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.