Thermal Expansion and Glass Transition Behaviour of Thin Polymer Films with and without a Free Surface Via Neutron Reflectometry


The thermal expansion of thin deuterated polystyrene (dPS) films supported on energetically repulsive, fluorinated polyimide (PI) substrates (PI/dPS bilayer) was measured via neutron reflectometry as a function of initial dPS film thickness. Film thickness was measured before and after capping with a top layer of the same repulsive, high glass transition polyimide that comprised the substrate layer (PI/dPS/PI trilayer) in an attempt to observe any effects of the dPS free surface in the bilayer geometry. Bulk thermal expansion behavior, characterized by a discontinuous change in coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) at the glass transition (Tg), is observed in films with thickness > 70 rim. For thicknesses between 70 nm and 40 nm a transition is seen from bulk behavior in bilayer films to glassy thermal behavior in the trilayer films persisting up to 20 °C above the bulk Tg. In films with thickness < 40 nm the bulk glassy CTE persists well above the bulk Tg for both bilayer and trilayer films

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Correspondence to D. J. Pochan.

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Pochan, D.J., Lin, E.K., Satija, S. et al. Thermal Expansion and Glass Transition Behaviour of Thin Polymer Films with and without a Free Surface Via Neutron Reflectometry. MRS Online Proceedings Library 543, 163–168 (1998).

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