Europhys. Lett.
Volume 60, Number 2, October 2002
Page(s) 255 - 261
Section Condensed matter: structure, mechanical and thermal properties
Published online 01 October 2002
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2002-00344-9

Europhys. Lett., 60 (2) , pp. 255-261 (2002)

Temperature-gradient-induced instability in polymer films

E. Schäffer1, S. Harkema1, R. Blossey2 and U. Steiner1

1  Department of Polymer Chemistry and Materials Science Center University of Groningen - Nijenborgh 4, NL-9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands
2  Zentrum für Bioinformatik, Universität des Saarlandes D-66123 Saarbrücken, Germany

(Received 6 June 2002; accepted in final form 5 August 2002)

We report the experimental observation and a theoretical model for a thin-film instability caused by a temperature gradient. A polymer-air double layer sandwiched between two plates set to different temperatures shows an instability leading to polymer columns or stripes spanning the two plates. The characteristic wavelength of these patterns scales inversely with the initial heat flux through the double layer. Theoretically, we describe the heat flow in terms of the diffusion of heat through the bilayer, causing an interfacial radiation pressure that destabilizes the film.

68.15.+e - Liquid thin films.
68.60.-p - Physical properties of thin films, nonelectronic.
82.35.Lr - Physical properties of polymers.

© EDP Sciences 2002