Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science Major: Engineering Mechanics Under the Supervision of Professor Li Tan Lincoln, Nebraska August, 2010 Copyright 2010 Alexandre Dhôtel


There is increasing interest in self-assembled materials for energy storage, flexible electronics and hydrophobic barriers. Inorganic/organic hybrid thin films and especially organosilane-based coatings already have demonstrated their ability to achieve those goals. However, some fundamental points of their formation process by molecular self-assembly remain unexplained. Although the literature widely reports the effect of temperature on the final nanostructure, until now, no one has taken into account the importance of time during their synthesis.

The main objective of this study was to improve and complete the understanding of mechanisms responsible for the self-organization of organic/inorganic molecules into a highly ordered, layered structure. Indeed, by including gelation time as the main parameter during the preparation of nanostructured films, we have shown that it is among the major criteria controlling molecular conformation.

By completing this research, we have filled a gap in the knowledge concerning the time dependence of the preparation of self-assembled molecules. We expect this work to be of general interest to all material engineers wanting to synthesize and control the internal structure of inorganic/organic hybrid thin films.