Substantial spatial heterogeneity and tunability of glass transition temperature observed with dense polymer brushes prepared by ARGET ATRP

Tian Lan, John M. Torkelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Dense polystyrene (PS) brushes were synthesized on silica wafers via a "grafting from" technique using activators regenerated by electron transfer atom transfer radical polymerization (ARGET ATRP). Spectroscopic ellipsometry and fluorescence spectroscopy were used to investigate the effect of nanoscale confinement on the glass transition temperature (Tg) and its distribution in dense PS brushes and bilayer constructs of brushes and freely deposited PS films. Single-layer PS brushes exhibit an overall average Tg that is nearly invariant with thickness down to 11 nm, with Tg values of the dense brushes differing by no more than 2 °C from those of bulk PS of the same molecular weight as that of the brush. These results differ greatly from those obtained with freely deposited PS films that show major Tg reductions with confinement. Distributions of Tgs were also studied by fluorescence in dense, ∼70-nm-thick PS brushes. Relative to Tg,bulk, chain segments within 10 nm of the substrate exhibit a ∼36 °C increase in Tg while segments within 5 nm of the free surface exhibit a 14 °C decrease in Tg. Fluorescence was also used to characterize the tunability of Tg within a single layer of bilayer constructs. As brush thickness increases from 13 to 94 nm, the Tg of a 15-nm-thick PS overlayer film decreases from 100 °C to 87 °C; in contrast, as the overlayer PS film thickness increases from 0 to 101 nm, the Tg of an 11-nm-thick underlayer PS brush increases from 98 °C to 126 °C. These results are compared with the few previous experimental reports of Tg-confinement effects of densely grafted PS brushes and bilayer constructs of brushes and films.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-192
Number of pages10
JournalPolymer
Volume64
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2015

Keywords

  • Confinement effects
  • Densely grafted polymer brushes
  • Glass transition temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

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