2019 Impact factor 1.812
Soft Matter and Biological Physics

Eur. Phys. J. E 8, 225-235 (2002)
DOI: 10.1140/epje/i2001-10062-2

Mobility in thin polymer films ranging from local segmental motion, Rouse modes to whole chain motion: A coupling model consideration

K.L. Ngai

Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375-5320, USA


(Received 1 August 2001 and Received in final form 1 December 2001)

Large increases of mobility of local segmental relaxation observed in polymer films as the film thickness is decreased, as evidenced by decreases of the glass temperature, are not found for relaxation mechanisms that have longer length scales including the Rouse relaxation modes and the diffusion of entire polymer chains. We show that the coupling model predictions, when extended to consider polymer thin films, are consistent with a large increase of the mobility of the local segmental motions and the lack of such a change for the Rouse modes and the diffusion of entire polymer chains. There are two effects that can reduce the coupling parameter of the local segmental relaxation in thin films. One is the chain orientation that is induced parallel to the surface when the film thickness h becomes smaller than the end-to-end distance of the chains and the other is a finite-size effect when h is no longer large compared to the cooperative length scale. Extremely thin ( $ \approx 1.5$ nm) films obtained by intercalating a polymer into layered silicates have thickness significantly less than the cooperative length scale near the bulk polymer glass transition temperature. As a result, the coupling parameter of the local segmental relaxation in such thin films is reduced almost to zero. With this plausible assumption, we show the coupling model can explain quantitatively the large decrease of the local segmental relaxation time found experimentally.

64.70.Pf - Glass transitions.
68.60.Bs - Mechanical and acoustical properties.
36.20.-r - Macromolecules and polymer molecules.

© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica, Springer-Verlag 2002