The thickness, the refractive index, and the optical anisotropy of thin sulfonated poly(ether ether ketone) films, prepared by spin-coating or solvent deposition, have been investigated with spectroscopic ellipsometry. For not too high polymer concentrations (B5 wt%) and not too low spin speeds (C2000 rpm), the thicknesses of the films agree well with the scaling predicted by the model of Meyerhofer, when methanol or ethanol are used as solvent. The films exhibit uniaxial optical anisotropy with a higher in-plane refractive index, indicating a preferred orientation of the polymer chains in this in-plane direction. The radial shear forces that occur during the spin-coating process do not affect the refractive index and the extent of anisotropy. The anisotropy is due to internal stresses within the thin confined polymer film that are associated with the preferred orientations of the polymer chains. The internal stresses are reduced in the presence of a plasticizer, such as water or an organic solvent, and increase to their original value upon removal of such a plasticizer.
Koziara, B., Nijmeijer, D. C., & Benes, N. E. (2015). Optical anisotropy, molecular orientations, and internal stresses in thin sulfonated poly(ether ether ketone) films. Journal of materials science, 50(8), 3031-3040. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10853-015-8844-0