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Size-dependent mechanical behavior of free-standing glassy polymer thin films

Wenjie Xia, Sinan Keten
2015 Journal of Materials Research  
The mechanical properties of nanoscale free-standing polymer thin films exhibit size dependence due to surface effects. However, it remains a challenge to determine the length scales at which differences are exhibited between film and bulk polymer properties. Here we use molecular dynamics simulations to uncover the dependence of elastic modulus (E) of free-standing films on film thickness and bulk properties. Comparison of the glass transition temperature (Tg) andEindicates thatTgconverges to
more » ... thatTgconverges to the bulk value slightly faster as the film thickness increases. The free-surface effects that give rise to a depression inEandTgare observed to be stronger for polymers with weaker intermolecular interactions. The most intriguing aspect of our study is the finding that despite the observed decrease in the modulus of the film up to a thickness of over 100 nm, the local stress distribution reveals that the preserved length scale of perturbation of the free surface is only several nanometers.
doi:10.1557/jmr.2014.289 fatcat:3ydbeprzcfbvtdyns65q6a3v7a