Measuring surface and bulk relaxation in glassy polymers
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We present a comprehensive study of gold nanoparticle embedding into polystyrene (PS) surfaces at temperatures ranging from T ( g ) + 8 K to T ( g ) - 83 K and times as long as 10(5) minutes. This range in times and temperatures allows the first concurrent observation of and differentiation between surface and bulk behavior in the 20 nm region nearest the free surface of the polymer film. Of particular importance is the temperature region near the bulk glass transition temperature where both surface and bulk processes can be measured. The results indicate that for the case of PS, enhanced surface mobility only exists at temperatures near or below the bulk T ( g ) value. The surface relaxation times are only weakly temperature dependent and near T ( g ), the enhanced mobility extends less than 10nm into the bulk of the film. The results suggest that both the concept of a "surface glass transition" and the use of glass transition temperatures to measure local mobility near interfaces may not universally apply to all polymers. The results can also be used to make a quantitative connection to molecular dynamics simulations of polymer films and surfaces.
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