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Characterization of Planarity of Polymer Thin Films on Rough Surfaces



Wen-Li Wu, William E. Wallace


Angle-dependent total reflection x-ray fluorescence (TRXF) is used to characterize the surface roughness or the extent of planarization of a thin polymer coating on a stainless steel surface with significant roughness. The objective of this work is to explore the use of TRXF as a non-contact and quantitative technique for characterizing surface roughness of thin film coatings. Once developed, this technique is expected to perform equally well on other surface coating materials other than polymers. Unlike optical methods, whether the thin films are transparent or not is not expected to affect the outcome of this measurement. TRXF data were collected with incident angle in the region around the polymer critical angle and were analyzed in conjunction with the results deduced from specular x-ray reflectivity (XR). Comparison between the TRXF results and those obtained from atomic force microscope (AFM) was also made in order to evaluate this TRXF method critically.
SPIE series


atomic force microscopy, planarization, polymer thin film, surface roughness, total reflection x-ray fluorescence


Wu, W. and Wallace, W. (1998), Characterization of Planarity of Polymer Thin Films on Rough Surfaces, SPIE series, [online], (Accessed April 18, 2024)
Created July 1, 1998, Updated February 19, 2017