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Article in Advanced Materials (2024)

Laser drumming on ultrathin polymeric membranes

Przemysław Puła, a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Exact and Natural Sciences conducting his research at the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Warsaw in the Polymer Research Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Majewski, is a co-author of the latest publication in the prestigious journal Advanced Materials (IF = 29.4). The publication, “Fast Photoactuation and Environmental Response of Humidity-sensitive pDAP-silicon Nanocantilevers” (https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.202403114), is the result of a collaboration with a physicist group from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan led by Prof. Bartlomiej Graczykowski.

The research focused on creating ultra-thin polyamine membranes, as well as polyamine-silicon actuators, using a deposition technique called plasma-assisted polymerization. This technique facilitates the application of these materials to different surfaces, simplifying the conventional multi-step manufacturing process. The thin membrane material demonstrates remarkable stability and outstanding mechanical properties. A 50 nm-thick polyamine membrane achieved an impressive lateral size-to-thickness ratio of over 40,000. To put this into perspective, if the thickness of the membrane were equivalent to the thickness of a glass window pane, its size would be twice the size of a soccer field!

Compared to most soft materials, whose response to changes in environmental factors such as humidity and temperature is limited by slow diffusion and molecular rearrangement, the motion of the membrane can be driven at rates exceeding 1,000 cycles per second thanks to its extremely small thickness. The demonstrated technology holds promise for applications in wireless actuators, micromechanical energy harvesters, and high sampling rate sensors.

The work of both teams received financial support from the National Science Center under the OPUS (2021/41/B/ST5/03038) and SONATA BIS (UMO-2020/38/E/ST5/0032) programs.

Fig. Photoactuation of the ultrathin membrane.