Direct observation of polymer surface mobility via nanoparticle vibrations

Publish Year: 2018
Publisher:  Nature Communications, 2018, 9, 2918
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H. Kim, Y. Cang, E. Kang, M. Secchi, M. Montagna, R. D. Priestley, E. M. Furst, G. Fytas
Measuring polymer surface dynamics remains a formidable challenge of critical importance to applications ranging from pressure-sensitive adhesives to nanopatterning, where interfacial mobility is key to performance. Here, we introduce a methodology of Brillouin light spectroscopy to reveal polymer surface mobility via nanoparticle vibrations. By measuring the temperature-dependent vibrational modes of polystyrene nanoparticles, we identify the glass-transition temperature and calculate the elastic modulus of individual nanoparticles as a function of particle size and chemistry. Evidence of surface mobility is inferred from the first observation of a softening temperature, where the temperature dependence of the fundamental vibrational frequency of the nanoparticles reverses slope below the glass-transition temperature. Beyond the fundamental vibrational modes given by the shape and elasticity of the nanoparticles, another mode, termed the interaction-induced mode, was found to be related to the active particle–particle adhesion and dependent on the thermal behavior of nanoparticles.

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