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Studies of the Optical Properties of Metal-Pliable Polymer Composite Materials

Volume 57, Number 11 (Nov. 2003) Page 1346-1352

Giesfeldt, Kathleen S.; Connatser, R. Maggie; De Jesús, Marco A.; Lavrik, Nickolay V.; Dutta, Pampa; Sepaniak, Michael J.

Polymer-nano-metallic-particle composites have demonstrated technological potential due to their unique optical and electrical properties. Herein, we report on composites prepared via physical vapor deposition of silver metal onto pliable poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) polymer. Rapid Ag diffusion and nano-metallic-particle formation in a phase-separated surface layer of the PDMS creates unique sub-surface-based composites whose properties vary based on rate of deposition and average Ag thickness. Additionally, nanometallic-particle spacing can be altered with fair reproducibility and reversibility by physically manipulating the Ag-PDMS composite. The optical properties of the materials are studied by visible wavelength optical extinction spectrometry and surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), including studies performed during physical manipulation. Direct current (DC) conductivity measurements were made during Ag deposition to study percolation conditions for the materials. Depth-profiling was performed by X-ray photoelectron spectrometry. Sample Raman spectral data collected with the composite as a SERS substrate are included. A practical technological characteristic of these composite materials arises from their potential to be molded into functional devices.