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Instability and Patterning of Thin Polymer Films

Course Description

This is a course that we offer at the chemical engineering department at IIT Kharagpur as an as an elective for the master students as well as an open elective for the final year under graduate students. You might be slightly surprised with the name because I am sure in your chemical engineering curriculum you have not come across a course that goes by this type of a name. Well do not be scared, it is a course as you will soon find which is extremely or highly interdisciplinary in nature and covers various aspects of chemical engineering, physics, nanotechnology and even some concepts of polymer chemistry and polymer physics.

Course Objective

This course will expose students to the science of sub-micron, meso and nanoscale patterning of surfaces with special emphasis on thin soft films like gels, polymers etc.

The course will focus on the different classes of thin film patterning techniques like the top down techniques (lithography), bottom up techniques (self assembly and self organization) as well as combination of the two (confined and template guided self organization) as well as focus on various engineering applications of the patterned thin films like super wetting and super hydrophobicity, structural color, metamaterials, super adhesives and easy release coatings, microfluidics etc.

The course will be expose the students to the various soft lithography techniques and will focus on how hydrodynamics and capillarity plays and intriguingly critical role in evolution and pattern formation.

State of art concepts like "patterns on demand", "reconfigurable structures", "patterning beyond the master', "patterning of non planar surfaces", "pattern miniaturization by shrinkage" etc. will also be covered in the course.


  1. General Introduction to Patterning; Lithography Techniques, Applications of Patterned thin films.
  2. Classification of Patterning Techniques: Top Down, Bottom up, combined techniques; Serial vs. Parallel Techniques.
  3. Soft Lithography: basics, key concepts, major techniques - Micro Contact Printing, Nano imprint Lithography, Hot Embossing, Replica Molding (REM), Micro Molding in Capillaries (MIMIC), Capillary Force Lithography (CFL), Polymer Bonding Lithography; Patterning of films coated on Curved Surfaces.
  4. Soft Lithography for patterning of inorganic (sol-gel) thin films and Hydrogels.
  5. Hydrodynamics of a free surface, Capillarity, Physical origin of Instability, Wetting and dewetting, Length Scales Analysis, Pattern Formation.
  6. Ordered pattern formation by template guided and confined dewetting, Dewetting of Bilayers
  7. Elastic Contact Instability: concepts, governing equations, Elastic contact Lithography, Pattern Miniaturization in Bilayers, Adhesive Force Assisted Imprinting.
  8. Electric Filed and Thermal gradient induced patterning, Electrohydrodynamics, LISA (Lithographically Induced Self Assembly).
  9. Stress Engineering.
  10. Multi scale patterning.
  11. Applications of Patterned Thin Films: Super Hydrophobic and Super Wetting Surfaces, Structural Color, Super Adhesives and Easy Release Coatings, Micro Fluidics etc.

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