Micro- and submicrostructuring thin polymer films with two and three-beam single pulse laser interference lithography

In this work we report the application of two and three-beam single pulse laser interference lithography to thin polymer films of poly(trimethylene terephthalate) (PTT). By irradiating the sample surface with temporary and spatially overlapped single pulses from two or three coherent beams and changing the angles of incidence, we have accomplished the fabrication of large-area polymer micro and submicrogratings as well as submicrometric cavities arranged in a hexagonal lattice. The characterization of the structures in real space by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) has allowed us to determine the formation mechanism of the microgratings to be based on different ablation regimes depending on the local fluence. Moreover, complementary characterization of the submicrometric cavities in reciprocal space by grazing incidence small-angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS) confirms the existence of large areas where two-dimensional order is present. The experiments presented in this work demonstrate the suitability of single pulse laser interference lithography for micro and submicrostructuring polymer films, opening up new possibilities for patterning and paving the way for potential applications where polymer structures are involved.