Real-time neutron reflectivity study of the early stages of diffusion into and dissolution of glassy polymers



The early stages of the penetrant behavior of a series of phthalate plasticizers into thin films of glassy, high-molecular-weight deuterated poly(methyl methacrylate) (dPMMA) have been studied with in situ real-time neutron reflectivity. After an initial induction phase, both dioctyl phthalate and diisononyl phthalate penetrate the dPMMA films, as indicated by an increase in the thickness. In both cases, a fast linear rate of swelling of the polymer is followed by another behavior that is much slower. The slowdown in the velocity of the plasticizers at or near the transition point is assumed to occur because of a balancing of the misfit-induced pressure and the osmotic pressure, which is responsible for the initial plasticizer ingress. In contrast, and unexpectedly, lower molecular weight dibutyl phthalate does not swell dPMMA, but after an initial induction period, the polymer film begins to dissolve. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 42: 3267–3281, 2004