High-throughput measurement of polymer film thickness using optical dyes

Optical dyes were added to polymer solutions in an effort to create a technique for high-throughput screening of dry polymer film thickness. Arrays of polystyrene films, cast from a toluene solution, containing methyl red or solvent green were used to demonstrate the feasibility of this technique. Measurements of the peak visible absorbance of each film were converted to thickness using the Beer–Lambert relationship. These absorbance-based thickness calculations agreed within 10% of thickness measured using a micrometer for polystyrene films that were 10–50 µm. At these thicknesses it is believed that the absorbance values are actually more accurate. At least for this solvent-based system, thickness was shown to be accurately measured in a high-throughput manner that could potentially be applied to other equivalent systems. Similar water-based films made with poly(sodium 4-styrenesulfonate) dyed with malachite green oxalate or congo red did not show the same level of agreement with the micrometer measurements. Extensive phase separation between polymer and dye resulted in inflated absorbance values and calculated thickness that was often more than 25% greater than that measured with the micrometer. Only at thicknesses below 15 µm could reasonable accuracy be achieved for the water-based films.

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Grunlan, JC; Mehrabi, AR; Ly, T; Meas. Sci. Technol.200516, 153-161.
Published in Meas. Sci. Technol. 2005