Are polymers glassier upon confinement?
Glass forming systems are characterized by a stability against crystallization upon heating and by the easiness with which their liquid phase can be transformed into a solid lacking of long-range order upon cooling (glass forming ability). Here, we report the thickness dependence of the thermal phase transition temperatures of poly(L-lactide acid) thin films supported onto solid substrates. The determination of the glass transition, cold crystallization and melting temperatures down to a thickness of 6 nm, permitted us to build up parameters describing glass stability and glass forming ability. We observed a strong influence of the film thickness on the latter, while the former is not affected by 1D confinement. Further experiments permitted us to highlight key structural morphology features giving insights to our ellipsometric results via a physical picture based on the changes in the free volume content in proximity of the supporting interfaces.