Nonlinear Optically Active Ionically Self-Assembled Monolayer Thin Films of Organic Polymers Intercalated with an Inorganic Hectorite, Laponite RD
Shah, Smital S.
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Detailed studies are presented of thin films containing a polycation, a nonlinear optically (NLO) active chromophore, and a synthetic hectorite that self-assemble into the noncentrosymmetric structure required for second order nonlinear optical responses. UV/Vis spectroscopy and ellipsometry were used as probes to monitor film growth for upto 25 deposition cycles. Exceptionally homogeneous films were obtained with regular film growth for up to the 25 cycles deposited. ISAM films self-assemble from polyelectrolyte solutions due to coulombic interactions between a charged substrate and the charged polymer in solution. Charges accumulating at the surface restrict further growth due to charge overcompensation at the surface. The entire process occurs relatively quickly as compared to other competing assembly techniques such as Langmuir-Blodgett assembly and covalent self-assembly. Previous studies indicated that second harmonic signal diminishes after the deposition of the first few bilayers. This is potentially due to adjacent layer interpenetration, which becomes prominent moving further away from the hard substrate interface. Laponite RD, a synthetic hectorite was introduced in the films in an effort to minimize interpenetration of adjacent bilayers and hence maintain chromophore orientation in every bilayer of the ISAM film. The film was deposited in quadlayers that have the following sequence: Polycationâ Laponiteâ Polycationâ Chromophore. This study is unique in its approach as it investigates the possible implications of film interpenetration on the NLO-activity of ISAM films that can be easily fabricated. It also shows the effects of different interfaces on the NLO-activities of the films. We have investigated the effect of changing the polycation from poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) and poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDDA) and the solution pH to see how these variables affect the growth and NLO properties of ISAM films. At lower pH values (specify relevant range of values), for both polycations, intrachain and interchain repulsion is strong due to little electrostatic screening. This results in polycation deposition in relatively thin, train-like layers. At higher pH levels (specify relevant range of values here) the electrostatic screening is greater due to a higher effective ionic strength. At these conditions, intrachain and interchain repulsion is reduced and so the polymers adsorb to form thicker layers with more loops and tails than for the case at lower pH. This also results in a higher density of the chromophore in the film. Extremely smooth surfaces of Laponite RD in film were obtained as confirmed by AFM imaging on glass. Regular quadlayer growth monitored by UV/Vis spectroscopy and ellipsometry was observed for up to 25 quadlayers. Second harmonic generation (SHG) signal was not conclusively affected by the presence of laponite as the decrease of signal was seen after the first few layers in the laponite containing films. This decrease was however was not as sharp in the films containing laponite as in the films that did not contain laponite. It was also noted that the SHG was not so much affected by the number of layers deposited but more so by the distance of the chromophore layer from the hard glass interface. This study thus brings to light the very important effect of the glass interface on the NLO-activity of these films.
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