Nealey Group: Xuanxuan Chen

Graduate Student

Nealey Group

Start date:

January 2013


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    xchen7 at


Directed self-assembly of block copolymers in the Nealey group has focused on the behavior of thin films (< 150nm). However, for many applications, thicker films with similar structures are preferred, but the extension of the process from thin to thick films is nontrivial. Block copolymers in thin films are subject to confinement effects which play a large role in their assembly; these effects fall off as the film thickness increases and the BCP system behavior more closely mirrors that of the bulk. Xuanxuan is investigating this transition as well as methods to control and direct the BCP assembly at various film thicknesses. She characterizes the polymer behavior using in-situ X-ray scattering experiments as well as cross-sectional SEM imaging to gather new insight into polymer assembly behavior at the critical film thickness where orientation transition occurs. Additionally, she is researching the formation of through-film structures and methods to direct their development.


Xuanxuan received her BE degree in chemical engineering from Tianjin University in 2011 and then joined the ChE graduate program at UW-Madison, where she received her MS degree. She joined IME in January 2013 and is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Chicago.

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