Irreversible adsorption at polymer/substrate interfaces has been reported to influence glassy properties in thin films. However, consideration has yet to be extended to the nanocomposite geometry, wherein a large interfacial area and high processing temperatures afford especially favorable conditions for irreversible adsorption at the polymer/nanoparticle interface. Here, we present an approach for directly measuring the site-specific glassy properties at the polystyrene (PS)-adsorbed layer interface in PS-silica nanocomposites. We achieved this using a stepwise assembly approach to localize fluorescent dyes within the nanocomposite adsorbed layer, subsequently measuring the glass transition temperature (Tg) via fluorescence. We found that PS adsorption within nanocomposites strongly influenced the local Tg. By measuring the thickness of the PS-adsorbed layers atop nanoparticles via transmission electron microscopy, we found a correlation between adsorbed layer Tg and thickness. Our results provide compelling evidence that adsorbed layer formation within polymer nanocomposites can have a profound impact on local interfacial properties.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Materials Chemistry