Wafer thin

Stefan Mecking and colleagues at the University of Konstanz, Germany, have developed a new method to produce wafer-thin polymer films that avoids the high temperatures and organic solvents of conventional approaches. The team instead carried out the catalytic polymerization of ethylene using nickel complexes to produce aqueous dispersions of crystalline polymer particles. They then droppered this dispersion on to a glass slide and spun it at 2000 revolutions per minute, to spin coat the substrate. Excess liquid flies off, leaving behind a film a mere 50 nanometers thick. The new approach precludes the need for toxic reagents and can product highly uniform films for further investigations.