The Effect of Morphology in Block Copolymer Thin Films on Stem Cell Differentiation and Fate

Lewis, Ronald
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University of Delaware
Solvent annealing represents a versatile technique for self-assembly of block copolymer thin films. The following report highlights the practical functionality of this technique by describing a series of studies undertaken to expand the understanding of this procedure. Firstly, a microfluidic device was utilized to demonstrate that, with the proper selection of solvents, a gradient in morphology could be established across a single film. Secondly, the rate of solvent removal from a film was shown to have a direct impact on the topography of the film, while maintaining a different through-film structure. Thirdly, raster solvent vapor annealing (RSVA) techniques were employed to selectively anneal a very small portion of a film. Multiple passes or cross patterns with this technique were shown to alter the morphology as well. Fourthly, a program was developed in Java to quantitatively interpret and analyze AFM images for the ratios of different morphologies. Finally, the solvent annealing procedure was applied to a biological application by initially conducting bell jar experiments to determine the morphologies of the polymer film. The film was subjected to experimental thiol-ene click chemistry reactions in order to functionalize the surface of the film. While no further experimentation occurred, a literature search was performed to evaluate future experimental parameters involving cell growth.