Recent studies have illustrated a decoupling between cooperative segmental mobility and the glass transition temperature (Tg) of thin polymer films and nanocomposites. Here, we use dielectric spectroscopy to probe the cooperative segmental mobility and capacitive dilatometry to determine the Tg of films of polystyrene nanospheres with diameters (d) less than 400 nm. We find that both capacitive dilatometry and calorimetry revealed nearly identical suppressions in Tg as the size of the nanospheres was reduced. While Tg was impacted by confinement, in the range 130 nm ≤ d ≤ 400 nm, in stark contrast, the cooperative segmental mobility, i.e., the peak position of the α-relaxation process was not. Furthermore, when d ≤ 200 nm, an additional molecular relaxation process, not observed in bulk, was present. We interpret these findings as evidence of a decoupling between Tg and cooperative segmental mobility in nanospheres. That is, the latter may be impacted by confinement under conditions in which the former is not.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry
- Cooperative segmental dynamics
- Glass transition