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Soft Matter and Biological Physics
Open Access

Eur. Phys. J. E 5, 509 (2001)

Call for papers
Special issue on "Properties of thin polymer films"

Günter Reiter (Editor) and James Forrest (Guest Editor)

In recent years, there have been numerous reports of anomalous behavior of polymers in thin films. These observations, encompassing both structural and dynamical behavior, have attracted a great deal of interest. Measurements showing such anomalous behavior include density (irreversible and reversible changes after annealing below the bulk glass transition temperature), film stability and dewetting, glass transition temperature, diffusion coefficient and chain conformation and relaxation. The lack of a definitive $M_{\rm w}$ dependence in many of these studies means that it is not yet clear if the molecular size is a defining parameter in these observations. Alternatively, the surface to volume ratio may make such systems dependent on the (equally poorly understood) properties of polymer surfaces and interfaces. Despite a growing literature in this area, it is becoming increasingly obvious that a clear understanding of thin film properties has not yet been reached.

In particular in glassy thin polymer films a possible cause for the anomalous behavior may originate from sample preparation. The widely used process of spin coating can potentially produce samples that are far from equilibrium. While most studies use thin films that have been annealed above the bulk glass transition, it is not clear if this represents sufficient annealing because the terminal relaxation times may be much larger than typical annealing times.

One of the key questions is: Are these deviations from equilibrium important enough to cause any measurable effects? What are the consequences of film preparation and the resulting non-equilibrium conformations of the polymers on measurements of film stability, glass transition temperature, diffusion coefficient, etc.? Alternatively, if these non-equilibrium effects are not responsible for the anomalies observed in the structural and dynamical properties of thin polymer films, then other explanations must be considered.

In the search for a unifying concept to explain all aspects simultaneously (i.e., density, film stability, glass transition temperature, ...) and in order to provide a forum for an open and possibly controversial discussion, The European Physical Journal E - Soft Matter invites regular articles and comments on this topic. In addition we invite submission of well-founded conjectures which may be published together with complementary views (solicited by the Editors).

Papers to be considered for this special issue should be submitted by August 15, 2001 to the Editorial Office of the European Physical Journal E (Véronique Condé, Editorial Office of The European Physical Journal E, Université Paris Sud, bâtiment 510, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France Tel.: 33 (0)1 69 15 59 76, Fax: 33 (0)1 69 15 59 75, e-mail: conde@edpsciences.org) and marked clearly to the attention of either Günter Reiter (Editor) or James Forrest (Guest Editor). We look forward to receiving your submission.

© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica, Springer-Verlag 2001