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Title: Unexpected molecular weight effect in polymer nanocomposites

Here, the properties of the interfacial layer between the polymer matrix and nanoparticles largely determine the macroscopic properties of polymer nanocomposites (PNCs). Although the static thickness of the interfacial layer was found to increase with the molecular weight (MW), the influence of MW on segmental relaxation and the glass transition in this layer remains to be explored. In this Letter, we show an unexpected MW dependence of the interfacial properties in PNC with attractive polymer-nanoparticle interactions: the thickness of the interfacial layer with hindered segmental relaxation decreases as MW increases, in sharp constrast to theoretical predictions. Further analyses reveal a reduction in mass density of the interfacial layer with increasing MW, which can explain these unexpected dynamic effects. Our observations call for a significant revision of the current understandings of PNCs and suggest interesting ways to tailor their properties.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physical Review Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 116; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 0031-9007
American Physical Society (APS)
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States