Block copolymers can now be made into new complex patterns

Researchers at MIT have discovered a phenomenon that allows block copolymers, self-assembling materials that were previously known by scientists to form a variety of predictable, regular patterns, to be made into much more intricate models. Scientists had found that patterns could be produced by first creating a repeating pattern of lines on a substrate, then forming a thin film of a block copolymer on that substrate. However, this method could only produce simple patterns like grids of dots or lines. In the new method, there are two different patterns: one is from a set of lines etched on a substrate material, and one is an inherent pattern that is created by the self-assembling copolymers, which is much more complex and unexpected. These findings have the potential to open up new areas of materials design.