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Connectivity and free-surface effects in polymer glasses.

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Lappala, Anna 
Sefton, Luke 
Fenimore, Paul W 
Terentjev, Eugene M 


The glass transition is one of the few unsolved problems in condensed matter physics: agreement on the cause of the slowing down of structural relaxation in glass-forming liquids is lacking. Glasses are amorphous solids, which do not possess the long-range crystalline order, yet display arrested dynamics and the shear elastic modulus characteristic of equilibrium elasticity. It has been suggested that due to the influence of intramolecular interactions and chain connectivity, the nature of the glass transition in polymers and in standard glass-formers is fundamentally different. Here, we discuss the role of connectivity in polymer glasses, demonstrating that although covalent bonding promotes glass formation, bonding sequentiality that defines a polymer chain is not critical in the bulk: glassy dynamics is purely a result of the number of connections per particle, independently of how these connections are formed, agreeing with the classical Phillips-Thorpe topological constraint theory. We show that bonding sequentiality does play an important role in the surface effects of the glass, highlighting a major difference between polymeric and colloidal glasses. Further, we identify the heterogenous dynamics of model coarse-grained polymer chains both in 'bulk' and near the free surface, and demonstrate characteristic domain patterns in local displacement and connectivity.



0303 Macromolecular and Materials Chemistry

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Queens' College Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA