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Structure-induced switching of interpolymer adhesion at a solid–polymer melt interface

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Here we report a link between the interfacial structure and adhesive property of homopolymer chains physically adsorbed (i.e., via physisorption) onto solids. Polyethylene oxide (PEO) was used as a model and two different chain conformations of the adsorbed polymer were created on silicon substrates via the well-established Guiselin's approach: “flattened chains” which lie flat on the solid and are densely packed, and “loosely adsorbed polymer chains” which form bridges jointing up nearby empty sites on the solid surface and cover the flattened chains. We investigated the adhesion properties of the two different adsorbed chains using a custom-built adhesion testing device. Bilayers of a thick PEO overlayer on top of the flattened chains or loosely adsorbed chains were subjected to the adhesion test. The results revealed that the flattened chains do not show any adhesion even with the chemically identical free polymer on top, while the loosely adsorbed chains exhibit adhesion. Neutron reflectivity experiments corroborated that the difference in the interfacial adhesion is not attributed to the interfacial brodening at the free polymer–adsorbed polymer interface. Instead, coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulation results suggest that the tail parts of the loosely adsorbed chains act as “connector molecules”, bridging the free chains and substrate surface and improving the interfacial adhesion. These findings not only shed light on the structure–property relationship at the interface, but also provide a novel approach for developing sticking/anti-sticking technologies through precise control of the interfacial polymer nanostructures.

Graphical abstract: Structure-induced switching of interpolymer adhesion at a solid–polymer melt interface

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Publication details

The article was received on 19 Nov 2017, accepted on 11 Jan 2018 and first published on 11 Jan 2018

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM02279D
Citation: Soft Matter, 2018, Advance Article
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    Structure-induced switching of interpolymer adhesion at a solid–polymer melt interface

    N. Jiang, M. Sen, W. Zeng, Z. Chen, J. M. Cheung, Y. Morimitsu, M. K. Endoh, T. Koga, M. Fukuto, G. Yuan, S. K. Satija, J. Y. Carrillo and B. G. Sumpter, Soft Matter, 2018, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7SM02279D

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