A Novel Method for Studying the Dynamics of Confined Polymers in Nanoparticles in Nanoblends

Abstract : The advances in new technologies have prompted the need for functional systems smaller than the gyration radius of polymer chains. Thus, understanding how nanoconfinement affects polymer properties has been the focus of a lot of research for over a decade. Polystyrene in particular has been reported to be strongly affected when nanoconfined as a thin film and specifically its glass transition temperature (Tg) is reported to decrease with decreasing film thickness. Tremendous effort has been dedicated to developing methods for quantifying the large-scale dynamic of nanoconfined polymers: film dewetting, film contraction, nanobubble inflation, nanoparticle imbedding and healing of deformed surfaces etc. In this work we describe a novel method to study the large scale dynamic and nanomechanical properties of nanoconfined polymers in nanoparticles in nanoblends. Nanoblends of dPS/PBMA were prepared from a mixture of colloidal suspensions of cross-linked PBMA and traces of dPS nanoparticles via water evaporation. The polymer blends were prepared at temperatures well below the glass transition of PS (TgPS) and above the Tg of cross-linked PBMA particles (TgPBMA). In these conditions we expect the PBMA particles to deform under capillary pressure to fill the interstices between them and the glassy PS nanoparticles to remain spherical. During the preparation of the nanoblends the elastic energy is stored within the deformed cross-linked PBMA nanoparticles. Upon annealing the films above TgPS, the PBMA nanoparticles regain their spherical shape and release the stored elastic energy, which induces the deformation of the PS nanoparticles. Small angle neutron scattering is then used to monitor the shape evolution of the PS nanoparticles and to quantify the relaxation dynamics of the polystyrene nanoparticles.
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Mohamed Yousfi, Lionel Porcar, Peter Lindner, François Boué, Yahya Rharbi. A Novel Method for Studying the Dynamics of Confined Polymers in Nanoparticles in Nanoblends. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, Elsevier, 2010, 42, pp.2190-2197. ⟨10.1021/ma802734j⟩. ⟨hal-00482188⟩

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