Linear shear viscoelasticity of confined, end-attached polymers in a near-theta solvent

Lenore L. Dai, Steve Granick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diblock copolymers of polystyrene and polyvinylpyridine, end-attached to mica by the traditional method of selecting one block to be insoluble and the other block to be soluble in the solvent, were studied with surface-force experiments while immersed in trans-decalin, a near-theta solvent for the polystyrene block, with special attention given to the small-amplitude shear viscoelastic response. The relaxation time, denned as the inverse frequency at which the effective loss modulus equaled the effective storage modulus, was studied not only as a function of the film thickness but also as a function of the grafting density. The relaxation times started to slow in direct proportion to diminishing surface separation when the surface separation took the value D ≈ L o/3 (where L o is the thickness of the uncompressed end-attached layer). Attempts to make comparisons with available theories met with limited success. To test experimentally the origin of this shear viscoelastic slowdown, similar measurements were made with adsorbed polystyrene with a molecular weight similar to that of the polystyrene moiety of the diblock copolymer, and it was found that high magnitudes of the effective viscoelastic shear moduli appeared only when the compression was much larger. In a control experiment in which interprnrtration between opposed end-attached chains was precluded, we also studied the case of adsorbed polystyrene-polyvinylpyridine on one side and a bare mica surface on the other side, and the effective viscoelastic shear forces were reduced by nearly 1 order of magnitude. By inference, in the opposed diblock copolymer systems, we attributed the slowdown of the relaxation times with decreasing film thickness to the interpenetration of end-attached chains. Additional comments are made regarding the ratio of shear forces to compressive forces, which is called the small-strain friction coefficient. This is believed to be the first quantification of the linear-response relaxation time of end-attached polymer layers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3487-3496
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005


  • Diblock copolymer
  • Interfaces
  • Mechanical properties
  • Viscoelastic properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Linear shear viscoelasticity of confined, end-attached polymers in a near-theta solvent'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this