Journal of Applied Polymer Science

Solvent penetration and photoresist dissolution: A fluorescence quenching and interferometry study

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A novel method, based upon fluorescence quenching measurements, is described for the study of the mechanistic details of solvent penetration into thin polymer films. Here poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) labelled with phenanthrene (Phe) groups was coated as a film (0.8 μm thick) onto quartz disks. Diffusion of solvent (1 : 1 2‐butanone/2‐propanol) into the film was followed by a decrease in Phe fluorescence, while film dissolution was monitored simultaneously by laser interferometry. In the case of PMMA (Mw = 411,000, films annealed at 160°C) both processes occur at approximately the same rate and exhibit non‐Fickian (relaxation‐controlled) diffusion behavior. Correlating the results of these two experiments shows that, once the steady state is reached, the dissolution rate is controlled by the advance of the solvent front into the PMMA film. The “transition layer,” an important dissolution parameter, increases its thickness from 50 to 90 nm during the plasticization stage of solvent penetration and maintains its thickness until the solvent front reaches the quartz substrate. Copyright © 1988 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.