Spectroscopic Ellipsometry analysis of a thin film composite membrane consisting of polysulfone on a porous α-alumina support

Wojciech Ogieglo, Herbert Wormeester, Matthias Wessling, Nieck Edwin Benes

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Exposure of a thin polymer film to a fluid can affect properties of the film such as the density and thickness. In particular in membrane technology, these changes can have important implications for membrane performance. Spectroscopic ellipsometry is a convenient technique for in situ studies of thin films, because of its noninvasive character and very high precision. The applicability of spectroscopic ellipsometry is usually limited to samples with well-defined interfacial regions, whereas in typical composite membranes, often substantial and irregular intrusion of the thin film into the pores of a support exists. In this work, we provide a detailed characterization of a polished porous alumina membrane support, using variable-angle spectroscopic ellipsometry in combination with atomic force microscopy and mercury porosimetry. Two Spectroscopic ellipsometry optical models are presented that can adequately describe the surface roughness of the support. These models consider the surface roughness as a distinct layer in which the porosity gradually increases toward the outer ambient interface. The first model considers the porosity profile to be linear; the second model assumes an exponential profile. It is shown that the models can be extended to account for a composite membrane geometry, by deposition of a thin polysulfone film onto the support. The developed method facilitates practicability for in situ spectroscopic ellipsometry studies of nonequilibrium systems, i.e., membranes under actual permeation conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)935-943
Number of pages9
JournalACS applied materials & interfaces
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • METIS-293095
  • IR-81166


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