American Chemical Society
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Surface Pressure-Induced Interdiffused Structure Evidenced by Neutron Reflectometry in Cellulose Acetate/Polybutadiene Langmuir Films

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-04-27, 22:09 authored by Anne-Sophie Vaillard, Alae El Haitami, Philippe Fontaine, Fabrice Cousin, Philipp Gutfreund, Michel Goldmann, Sophie Cantin
Binary blends of water-insoluble polymers are a versatile strategy to obtain nanostructured films at the air–water interface. However, there are few reported structural studies of such systems in the literature. Depending on the compatibility of the polymers and the role of the air–water interface, one can expect various morphologies. In that context, we probed Langmuir monolayers of cellulose acetate (CA), of deuterated and postoxidized polybutadiene (PBd) and three mixtures of CA/PBd at various concentrations by coupling surface pressure–area isotherms, Brewster angle microscopy (BAM), and neutron reflectometry at the air–water interface to determine their thermodynamic and structural properties. The homogeneity of the films in the vertical direction, averaged laterally over the spatial coherence length of the neutron beam (∼5 μm), was assessed by neutron reflectometry measurements using D2O/H2O subphases contrast-matched to the mixed films. At 5 mN/m, the whole mixed films can be described by a single slightly hydrated thin layer. However, at 15 mN/m, the fit of the reflectivity curves requires a two-layer model consisting of a CA/PBd blend layer in contact with the water, interdiffused with a PBd layer at the interface with air. At intermediate surface pressure (10 mN/m), the determined structure was between those obtained at 5 and 15 mN/m depending on film composition. This PBd enrichment at the air–film interface at high surface pressure, which leads to the PBd depletion in the blend monolayer at the water surface, is attributed to the hydrophobic character of this polymer compared with the predominantly hydrophilic CA.