Evaporation induced self assembly and rheology change during sol-gel coating

Chang H. Lee, Yunfeng Lu, Amy Q. Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Thin films with self-assembled nanostructures are important in applications such as catalysis and biosensor technology. A major technique used to prepare such films is sol-gel processing. This technique involves depositing a complex fluid on a substrate by dip, spin, or spray coating, followed by allowing the film to evaporate and form self-assembled nanostructures. Since the composition of the film during coating is central to understanding how changing chemical and physical conditions affect the properties and microstructures of the films, we investigate the rheological properties of the entrained fluid film and its subsequent impact on the steady state film thickness during the evaporation-induced self-assembly process. We perform systematic experiments to measure the meniscus shape and film thickness during sol-gel dip coating. We observe that the experimental data of film thickness lie way below the Landau-Levich-Derjaguin prediction from the classic film-coating results. To explain this discrepancy, we present a thin film model based on the lubrication approximation with an evaporation effect. Our results show that evaporation-induced self-assembly leads to rheological variations in the entrained film and, consequently, alters the film thickness. The predicted film thickness based on the evaporation-induced rheology variation model compares well with the experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number052105
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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