University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
Phone: (519) 888-4567 ext 32215
Fax: (519) 746-8115
Professor Richard J. Spontak
Departments of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering
North Carolina State University
Soft complex nanostructures exist throughout nature, and we are now positioned to implement such nanostructures in enlightened materials design. Nanostructured polymers in particular are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in diverse (nano)technologies due to their unique potential for tunable multifunctionality and positioning. Since the spatial distribution of microphases or nanoscale additives is often of tremendous importance in the design and use of such materials, detailed investigation of their morphological characteristics in 3-D can provide valuable information regarding parameters such as interfacial area, characteristic length scales and connectivity. While some of these parameters may be inferred from other analytical methods, direct visualization provides a wealth of information unavailable from indirect (reciprocal-space) techniques such as scattering. In this work, I shall describe the use of transmission electron microtomography (TEMT), or 3-D TEM imaging, as an emerging analytical tool in the study of nanostructured polymers, such as those containing microphase-separated block copolymers.
Quantitation of local and global topology will be shown to provide useful metrics by which to classify and compare complex morphologies, whereas visualization of nanoparticles and nanofibrillar networks in nanocomposites can augment the current understanding of systems. This nonparametric analytical approach is completely general and can be readily applied to nanostructured materials present in both equilibrium and nonequilibrium (dynamically evolving) systems.