Molecular weight dependence of the intrinsic size effect on Tg in AAO template-supported polymer nanorods: A DSC study

Shadid Askar, Tong Wei, Anthony W. Tan, John M. Torkelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Many studies have established a major effect of nanoscale confinement on the glass transition temperature (Tg) of polystyrene (PS), most commonly in thin films with one or two free surfaces. Here, we characterize smaller yet significant intrinsic size effects (in the absence of free surfaces or significant attractive polymer-substrate interactions) on the Tg and fragility of PS. Melt infiltration of various molecular weights (MWs) of PS into anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) templates is used to create nanorods supported on AAO with rod diameter (d) ranging from 24 to 210 nm. The Tg (both as Tg,onset and fictive temperature) and fragility values are characterized by differential scanning calorimetry. No intrinsic size effect is observed for 30 kg/mol PS in template-supported nanorods with d = 24 nm. However, effects on Tg are present for PS nanorods with Mn and Mw ≥ ∼175 kg/mol, with effects increasing in magnitude with increasing MW. For example, in 24-nm-diameter template-supported nanorods, Tg, rod − Tg, bulk = −2.0 to −2.5 °C for PS with Mn = 175 kg/mol and Mw = 182 kg/mol, and Tg, rod − Tg, bulk = ∼−8 °C for PS with Mn = 929 kg/mol and Mw = 1420 kg/mol. In general, reductions in Tg occur when d ≤ ∼2Rg, where Rg is the bulk polymer radius of gyration. Thus, intrinsic size effects are significant when the rod diameter is smaller than the diameter (2Rg) associated with the spherical volume pervaded by coils in bulk. We hypothesize that the Tg reduction occurs when chain segment packing frustration is sufficiently perturbed by confinement in the nanorods. This explanation is supported by observed reductions in fragility with the increasing extent of confinement. We also explain why these small intrinsic size effects do not contradict reports that the Tg-confinement effect in supported PS films with one free surface exhibits little or no MW dependence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number203323
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 28 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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