Role of “Hard” and “Soft” Confinement on Polymer Dynamics at the Nanoscale

2017-08-11T19:05:44Z (GMT) by Ravi P. Sharma Peter F. Green
We investigated the segmental dynamics of asymmetrically confined polymer films and report an unusual phenomenon in which the presence and thickness of a soft confining layer are responsible for significant changes in the segmental dynamics of the confined films. Specifically, the segmental dynamics of poly­(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) thin films asymmetrically confined between hard aluminum (Al), and soft polystyrene (PS) films are shown to shift by as much as half an order of magnitude upon changes in the thicknesses of the confining PS layer. These effects are more significant than those due to symmetric confinement between hard Al substrates or exposure to a free surface. These observations, partially rationalized in terms of recent simulations and theory, implicate the role of the moduli of the confining layers.