University of Wisconsin–Madison

Thrust One

Directed Assembly of Block Copolymer Materials

Contact Information


Padma Gopalan
Padma Gopalan HeadshotDirector, Thrust One Co-Leader
219 Materials Science and Engineering
1509 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706


Paul Nealey
Paul Nealey HeadshotThrust One Co-Leader,
Founding Director
University of Chicago
5747 S.Ellis, Jones 217
Chicago, IL 60637

Rationale: Self-assembling materials spontaneously form structures with well-defined dimensions and shapes at length scales of interest in nanotechnology. In the particular case of block copolymer materials, the thermodynamic driving forces for self-assembly are small and low-energy defects can get easily trapped. At issue is the extent of direction or guidance required to meet criteria related to perfection and registration for use of such materials in nanofabrication.

Mission: Thrust 1 explores and develops new materials and processes for advanced lithography in which self-assembling block copolymers are integrated into and advance the performance of nanomanufacturing processes. In its capacity as a test bed for block copolymer lithography, Thrust 1 will delineate the insertion point of directed assembly technology in semiconductor manufacturing and patterned media applications.

Long-term Goals: Through fundamental understanding of the physics and chemistry of interfacial phenomena associated with equilibrating block copolymer materials in the presence of lithographically defined chemically nanopatterned substrates, Thrust 1 seeks to synthesize and assemble such materials to enable fabrication at length scales (3-20 nm) not possible with current materials and processes. Essential attributes of existing manufacturing practices must be retained, including pattern perfection, registration and overlay, and the ability to pattern device-oriented geometries, but with at least 2x resolution enhancement and precise control over the shapes and dimensions of patterned features.

Context within the Center: Thrust 1 employs equilibrium based strategies of directed assembly for structured polymeric materials (block copolymers) using surface (chemically nanopatterned substrates) fields. The activities complement those of Thrust 2 with respect to ordering of polymers on surfaces, including nanopatterned surfaces, and the synthesis of new functional materials. Cross-Thrust activities (with Thrust 3) include assembly of nanocomposite materials, assembly in electric fields, and development of computational tools and techniques essential for guiding and interpreting experiments.

Thrust One Highlights

Density Multiplication and Improved Lithography by Directed Block Copolymer Assembly
Graphoepitaxy on Chemically Homogeneous Surfaces (2011)
Surfactant-Assisted Orientation of Thin Diblock Copolymer Films