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Investigation of a nanocomposite of 75 wt % poly(methyl methacrylate) nanoparticles with 25 wt % poly(ethylene oxide) linear chains: A quasielatic neutron scattering, calorimetric, and WAXS study

AuthorsBhowmik, D. ; Pomposo, José A. ; Juranyi, F.; García Sakai, Victoria; Zamponi, Michaela; Arbe, Arantxa ; Colmenero de León, Juan
Issue Date2014
PublisherAmerican Chemical Society
CitationMacromolecules 47(9): 3005-3016 (2014)
AbstractWe have investigated the thermal behavior, local structure, and dynamics in a system where 25 wt % PEO [poly(ethylene oxide)] linear chains are mixed with 75 wt % PMMA [poly(methyl methacrylate)] soft nanoparticles. Calorimetric and wide-angle X-ray scattering experiments point to a weak penetration of the PEO chains in the nanoparticles, qualifying the mixture as a nanocomposite. Quasi-elastic neutron scattering (QENS) experiments on partially deuterated samples has selectively revealed the component dynamics in the system. The α-methyl group dynamics of PMMA, which fall within the QENS time scale in the temperature range investigated, are hardly affected by the presence of PEO except for hints of a more heterogeneous environment in the nanocomposite than in bulk PMMA. The effects on the dynamics of PEO are more interesting. The observation of dynamics in the microseconds range for the PEO component of the nanocomposite at temperatures at which the calorimetric experiments indicate the freezing of its segmental relaxation provides evidence for confined dynamics below the main glass transition of the mixture - attributable to the effective glass transition of the slow component. A parallel study on an equivalent blend of PEO and linear PMMA chains shows that these effects are independent of the topology of the PMMA. However, well above the effective glass transition of the slow component, the dynamics of PEO differ in both systems. In the linear blend, PEO segments move with the typical features of supercooled polymers in metastable equilibrium, while in the nanocomposite PEO dynamics exhibit an anomalously strong deviation from Gaussian behavior. This deviation grows with increased mobility of the nanoparticles. PEO segments are seemingly trapped in effective cages imposed by the nanoparticles for a very long time - more than 2 orders of magnitude longer than in bulk or when surrounded by linear PMMA chains - before the subdiffusive process leading to segmental relaxation sets in. We speculate that local loops in the surface of the nanoparticles may play an important role in this trapping mechanism. © 2014 American Chemical Society.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ma500215f
Identifiersdoi: 10.1021/ma500215f
e-issn: 1520-5835
issn: 0024-9297
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