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Issue 23, 2018
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Crossover from semi-dilute to densely packed thin polymer films at the air–water interface and structure formation at thin film breakup

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Abstract

A series of poly(n-butyl acrylate) (PnBA, 5 to 32 kg mol−1) homopolymers and diblock copolymers with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG, constant molecular weight of 0.3 kg mol−1) is synthesized for the purpose of the investigation of quasi-2D polymer films at the air–water interface. The presented compression isotherms show a transition from θ solvent behavior for PnBA homopolymers to good solvent conditions when the volume fraction of the PEG in the block copolymers is increased by decreasing the molecular weight of PnBA. A transition from a semi-dilute regime to a densely packed layer is observed in the pressure isotherms for all the polymers. In the densely packed films we found first evidence for thin film breakup of a thin polymer film directly at the air–water interface. Combination of results from Brewster-Angle-Microscopy and Surface X-ray scattering provide a consistent picture of the film breakup. Our results suggest a preferred length scale of 2.5 μm. This scenario is analogous to a spinodal mechanism driven by thermal fluctuations of the film height.

Graphical abstract: Crossover from semi-dilute to densely packed thin polymer films at the air–water interface and structure formation at thin film breakup

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Publication details

The article was received on 26 Mar 2018, accepted on 09 May 2018 and first published on 11 May 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8SM00629F
Citation: Soft Matter, 2018,14, 4750-4761
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    Crossover from semi-dilute to densely packed thin polymer films at the air–water interface and structure formation at thin film breakup

    C. Appel, M. Kraska, C. Rüttiger, M. Gallei and B. Stühn, Soft Matter, 2018, 14, 4750
    DOI: 10.1039/C8SM00629F

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