Surfactant or block copolymer-templated mesoporous films have been extensively explored, but achieving mesostructure coherence and unidirectional orientation over macroscopic dimensions has remained quite challenging for these self-assembled systems. Here, we extend the concepts associated with zone refinement of crystalline materials to soft templated mesoporous carbon films based on the cooperative assembly of commercial non-ionic surfactants (block copolymers) and phenolic resin oligomers (resol) to provide macroscopic alignment of both cubic (FDU-16) and hexagonal (FDU-15) mesostructures. The average orientation of these mesophases is determined from rotation grazing incidence small angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS) measurements. For FDU-15 templated by Pluronic P123, the orientation factor for the zone-annealed film is 0.98 based on the average of the second Legendre polynomial, but this orientation deteriorates significantly during carbonization. Notably, a thermal stabilization step following zone annealing preserves the orientation of the mesostructure during carbonization. The orientation factor for an isotropic cubic structure (FDU-16 templated by Pluronic F127) is only 0.48 (based on the 111 reflection with incident angle 0.15°) for the same zone annealing protocol, but this illustrates the versatility of zone annealing to different mesostructures. Unexpectedly, zone annealing of FDU-15 templated by Pluronic F127 leads to stabilization of the mesostructure through carbonization, whereas this structure collapses fully during carbonization even after extended oven annealing; despite no clear macroscopic orientation of the cylindrical mesostructure from zone annealing. Thermal zone annealing provides a simple methodology to produce highly ordered and macroscopically oriented stable mesoporous carbon films, but the efficacy is strongly tied to the mobility of the template during the zone annealing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Materials Science