Tuning the Relaxation of Nanopatterned Polymer Films with Polymer-Grafted Nanoparticles: Observation of Entropy–Enthalpy Compensation
Authors: Sonal Bhadauriya, Xiaoteng Wang, Praveen Pitliya, Jianan Zhang, Dharmaraj Raghavan, Michael R. Bockstaller, Christopher M. Stafford, Jack F. Douglas, Alamgir KarimNano Lett. 2018, 18, 7441−7447; https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b02514 Abstract: Polymer films provide a versatile platform in which complex functional relief patterns can be thermally imprinted with a resolution down to few nanometers. However, a practical limitation of this method is the tendency for the imprinted patterns to relax (“slump”), leading to loss of pattern fidelity over time. While increasing temperature above glass transition temperature (Tg) accelerates the slumping kinetics of neat films, we find that the addition of polymer-grafted nanoparticles (PGNP) can greatly enhance the thermal stability of these patterns. Specifically, increasing the concentration of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) grafted titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles in the composite films slows down film relaxation dynamics, leading to enhanced pattern stability for the temperature range that we investigated. Interestingly, slumping relaxation time is found to obey an entropy−enthalpy compensation (EEC) relationship with varying PGNP concentration, similar to recently observed relaxation of strain-induced wrinkling in glassy polymer films having variable film thickness. The compensation temperature, Tcomp was found to be in the vicintity of the bulk Tg of PMMA. Our results suggest a common origin of EEC relaxation in patterned polymer thin films and nanocomposites.