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Title: Communication: Slow relaxation, spatial mobility gradients, and vitrification in confined films

Two decades of experimental research indicate that spatial confinement of glass-forming molecular and polymeric liquids results in major changes of their slow dynamics beginning at large confinement distances. A fundamental understanding remains elusive given the generic complexity of activated relaxation in supercooled liquids and the major complications of geometric confinement, interfacial effects, and spatial inhomogeneity. We construct a predictive, quantitative, force-level theory of relaxation in free-standing films for the central question of the nature of the spatial mobility gradient. The key new idea is that vapor interfaces speed up barrier hopping in two distinct, but coupled, ways by reducing near surface local caging constraints and spatially long range collective elastic distortion. Effective vitrification temperatures, dynamic length scales, and mobile layer thicknesses naturally follow. Our results provide a unified basis for central observations of dynamic and pseudo-thermodynamic measurements.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. Department of Materials Science, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (United States)
  2. (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22310721
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Chemical Physics; Journal Volume: 141; Journal Issue: 16; Other Information: (c) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; FILMS; GLASS; INTERFACES; LAYERS; LIQUIDS; MOBILITY; RELAXATION; SURFACES; THICKNESS; VAPORS