We have developed a simple technique for the fabrication of polymer nanotubes with a monodisperse size distribution and uniform orientation. When either a polymer melt or solution is placed on a substrate with high surface energy, it will spread to form a thin film, known as a precursor film, similar to the behavior of low molar mass liquids. Similar wetting phenomena occur if porous templates are brought into contact with polymer solutions or melts: A thin surface film will cover the pore walls in the initial stages of wetting. This is because the cohesive driving forces for complete filling are much weaker than the adhesive forces. Wall wetting and complete filling of the pores thus take place on different time scales. The latter is prevented by thermal quenching in the case of melts or by solvent evaporation in the case of solutions, thus preserving a nanotube structure. If the template is of monodisperse size distribution, aligned or ordered, so are the nanotubes, and ordered polymer nanotube arrays can be obtained if the template is removed. Any melt-processible polymer, such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), blends, or multicomponent solutions can be formed into nanotubes with a wall thickness of a few tens of nanometers. Owing to its versatility, this approach should be a promising route toward functionalized polymer nanotubes.
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