Water-Assisted Mechanical Testing of Polymeric Thin-Films

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Thin films with a nanometer-scale thickness are of great interest to both scientific and industrial communities due to their numerous applications and unique behaviors different from the bulk. However, the understanding of thin-film mechanics is still greatly hampered due to their intrinsic fragility and the lack of commercially available experimental instruments. In this review, we first discuss the progression of thin-film mechanical testing methods based on the supporting substrate: film-on-solid substrate method, film-on-water tensile tests, and water-assisted free-standing tensile tests. By comparing past studies on a model polymer, polystyrene, the effect of different substrates and confinement effect on the thin-film mechanics is evaluated. These techniques have generated fruitful scientific knowledge in the field of organic semiconductors for the understanding of structure–mechanical property relationships. We end this review by providing our perspective for their bright prospects in much broader applications and materials of interest.

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Journal of Polymer Science

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