Physics and Astronomy, Department of


Date of this Version



Kraemer, K.L. (2013) Ferroelectric and Dielectric Properties of Electroactive Oligomers and Nanocomposites. PhD Disertation, University of Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Physics and Astronomy, Under the Supervision of Professor Stephen Ducharme. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Kristin L. Kraemer


Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) and its copolymers have been well established as ferroelectric polymers. The dielectric and ferroelectric properties for vinylidene fluoride (VDF) oligomer thin films were investigated. By synthesizing oligomers instead of long polymer chains, films with higher crystalinity can be formed and the locations of oligomers can be controlled for applications such as molecular electronics.

Evidence of ferroelectricity was observed in oligomer thin films evaporated onto room temperature substrates and by Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) deposition. Voltage and frequency dependence of the capacitance was measured. Oligomers functionalized with phosphonic acid formed self-assembled monolayers (SAM) on aluminum and mica substrates. Film thickness was measured by ellipsometry and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The time dependence on film growth was measured for SAMs on mica substrates by AFM. The islands had already formed by 1 minute, and by 1 hour film was continuous.

Additionally, studies were performed on composite dielectric systems with the goal of fabricating high energy density dielectrics containing nanoparticles with an organic shell. The first two types of samples had barium titante nanoparticles coated with functionalized alkanes or VDF oligomers. The first sample type consisted of coated nanoparticles embedded in a PVDF copolymer or terpolymer spin-coated film. At low particle concentrations, the matrix properties dominated the electrical measurements while at high concentrations, the samples were electrically fragile. The second sample type consisted of alternating layers of LB terpolymer and LB nanoparticles. These samples allowed for high particle concentrations while maintaining the high breakdown strength of the polymer layers. The final type of sample was titanium dioxide nanoparticles formed by cluster deposition and coated with an evaporated paraffin or VDF oligomer. These samples tended to have low breakdown strengths and poor repeatability from sample to sample.

The final study was on the effect of humidity in poly(vinylidene fluoride- trifluoroethylene) 70:30. Water vapor could enter the film, reside in the lattice, and affect the dielectric measurements. Based on dielectric measurements, the amount of water in the film at 80% relative humidity was 0.046%. With 50 nm aluminum electrodes, the vapor entered the film quickly, although it took five to six hours to leave at room temperature.

Advisor: Stephen Ducharme