Chemical force microscopy (CFM) in water was used to map the surface hydrophobicity of UV/ozone-treated poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS; Sylgard 184) as a function of the storage/recovery time. In addition to CFM pull-off force mapping, we applied indentation mapping to probe the changes in the normalized modulus. These experiments were complemented by results on surface properties assessed on the micrometer scale by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and water contact-angle measurements. Exposure times of <_30 min resulted in laterally homogeneously oxidized surfaces, which are characterized by an increased modulus and a high segmental mobility of PDMS. As detected on a sub-50-nm level, the subsequent "hydrophobic recovery" was characterized by a gradual increase in the pull-off forces and a decrease in the normalized modulus, approaching the values of unexposed PDMS after 8-50 days. Lateral imaging on briefly exposed PDMS showed the appearance of liquid PDMS in the form of droplets with an increasing recovery time. Longer exposure times (60 min) led to the formation of a hydrophilic silica-like surface layer. Under these conditions, a gradual surface reconstruction within the silica-like layer occurred with time after exposure, where a hydrophilic SiOx-enriched phase formed <100-nm-sized domains, surrounded by a more hydrophobic matrix with lower normalized modulus. These results provide new insights into the lateral homogeneity of oxidized PDMS with a resolution in the sub-50-nm range.
Hillborg, H., Tomczak, N., Oláh, A., Schönherr, H., & Vancso, G. J. (2004). Nanoscale Hydrophobic Recovery: A Chemical Force Microscopy Study of UV/Ozone-Treated Cross-Linked Poly(dimethylsiloxane). Langmuir, 20(3), 785-794. https://doi.org/10.1021/la035552k