Theses Doctoral

Probing Heterogeneous Dynamics One Molecule at a Time: Polystyrene near the Glass Transition

Manz, Alyssa Sarah Jane Hennings

Polymeric systems near their glass transition are known to exhibit heterogeneous dynamics that evolve both over space and time, yet many of the underlying principles of these dynamics are still poorly understood. In this thesis, experimental single molecule studies aimed at uncovering the dynamics of polystyrene near its glass transition temperature are described. In a first approach, the influence of temperature on the timescales associated with dynamic heterogeneity – also referred to as exchange times – are identified by following the dynamics of a fluorescent perylene diimide probe embedded in a high-molecular weight polystyrene host. No clear influence on the lifetime of dynamics is found in the temperature regime Tg to Tg + 10 K. In a second study, heterogeneous dynamics are investigated in the context of molecular weight and fragility. In a similar experimental approach to that of the first study, two fluorescent dyes are utilized to report on the rotational dynamics of low- to high-molecular weight polystyrene hosts. In accordance with previous reports, the stretching exponent, β, is found to be correlated with the system’s molecular weight, even on a single molecule level. However, no clear correlation with the system’s exchange time was found. In a final study, several single molecule approaches aimed at uncovering the dynamics in confined polystyrene films are described. As no evidence for previously-described mobile surface molecules has been found, this final chapter is meant to provide a basis for future single molecule studies in confined systems.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Kaufman, Laura J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 27, 2019