No Access Submitted: 18 August 2015 Accepted: 01 October 2015 Published Online: 27 October 2015
J. Chem. Phys. 143, 164707 (2015);
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  • Linus Pithan
  • Eduard Meister
  • Chenyu Jin
  • Christopher Weber
  • Anton Zykov
  • Katrein Sauer
  • Wolfgang Brütting
  • Hans Riegler
  • Andreas Opitz
  • Stefan Kowarik
We use thermal annealing to improve smoothness and to increase the lateral size of crystalline islands of n-tetratetracontane (TTC, C44H90) films. With in situ x-ray diffraction, we find an optimum temperature range leading to improved texture and crystallinity while avoiding an irreversible phase transition that reduces crystallinity again. We employ real-time optical phase contrast microscopy with sub-nm height resolution to track the diffusion of TTC across monomolecular step edges which causes the unusual smoothing of a molecular thin film during annealing. We show that the lateral island sizes increase by more than one order of magnitude from 0.5 μm to 10 μm. This desirable behavior of 2d-Ostwald ripening and smoothing is in contrast to many other organic molecular films where annealing leads to dewetting, roughening, and a pronounced 3d morphology. We rationalize the smoothing behavior with the highly anisotropic attachment energies and low surface energies for TTC. The results are technically relevant for the use of TTC as passivation layer and as gate dielectric in organic field effect transistors.
Parts of this research were carried out at the light source PETRA III at DESY, a member of the Helmholtz Association (HGF). We would like to thank S. Roth for assistance in using the MiNaXS beamline P03. Further experiments were performed on the ID03 beamline at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble, France. We are grateful to F. Carla at ESRF for providing assistance in using beamline ID03. L. Pithan acknowledges financial support from the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes and E. Meister as well as W. Brütting acknowledge funding by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG (Project No. Br 1728/14-1).
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