Mobile polymer connectors
Département de Recherche Fondamentale sur la Matière Condensée, CEA-Grenoble, Groupe Théorie, SI3M, UMR 5819 (CEA-CNRS-Université J. Fourier), 38054 Grenoble cedex 9, France
We study the junction between two solid objects, formed by polymer connectors which are supposed to freely explore the two grafting surfaces. We focus on the sphere-plane and sphere-sphere geometries. Because the chains are mobile, they are able to adapt both the local grafting density and their conformation to the position of the surfaces. Using a scaling approach, we show that, in chemical equilibrium, local grafting density is non-monotonic, and the junction can be divided into two different regions: the center, where connectors are compressed and exert a repulsive force between the objects (high excluded-volume interactions) and an external corona, where chains are stretched and attract the two objects. The relative importance of these regions varies for different separations and depends on surface geometries. When an external force is applied, this spatially inhomogeneous constraint exerted by the junction leads to specific force-distance profiles, which differ from profiles in the case of fixed connectors. An effective interaction potential and the adhesion energy are computed, showing a strong dependence on the geometry of surfaces.
© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica, and Springer-Verlag, 2003