Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.

Irreversible adsorption of polymer melts and nanoconfinement effects

Author affiliations


For almost a decade, growing experimental evidence has revealed a strong correlation between the properties of nanoconfined polymers and the number of chains irreversibly adsorbed onto nonrepulsive interfaces, e.g. the supporting substrate of thin polymer coatings, or nanofillers dispersed in polymer melts. Based on such a correlation, it has already been possible to tailor structural and dynamics properties – such as the glass transition temperature, the crystallization rate, the thermal expansion coefficients, the viscosity and the wettability – of nanomaterials by controlling the adsorption kinetics. This evidence indicates that irreversible adsorption affects nanoconfinement effects. More recently, also the opposite phenomenon was experimentally observed: nanoconfinement alters interfacial interactions and, consequently, also the number of chains adsorbed in equilibrium conditions. In this review we discuss this intriguing interplay between irreversible adsorption and nanoconfinement effects in ultrathin polymer films. After introducing the methods currently used to prepare adsorbed layers and to measure the number of irreversibly adsorbed chains, we analyze the models employed to describe the kinetics of adsorption in polymer melts. We then discuss the structure of adsorbed polymer layers, focusing on the complex macromolecular architecture of interfacial chains and on their thermal expansion; we examine the way in which the structure of the adsorbed layer affects the thermal glass transition temperature, vitrification, and crystallization. By analyzing segmental dynamics of 1D confined systems, we describe experiments to track the changes in density during adsorption. We conclude this review with an analysis of the impact of nanoconfinement on adsorption, and a perspective on future work where we also address the key ideas of irreversibility, equilibration and long-range interactions.

Graphical abstract: Irreversible adsorption of polymer melts and nanoconfinement effects

Back to tab navigation

Article information

28 Feb 2020
30 Apr 2020
First published
01 May 2020

Soft Matter, 2020, Advance Article
Article type
Review Article

Irreversible adsorption of polymer melts and nanoconfinement effects

S. Napolitano, Soft Matter, 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D0SM00361A

Social activity

Search articles by author