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Dendritic growth of poly(ε-caprolactone) crystals from compatible blends with poly(t-butyl acrylate) at the air/water interface

Authors

  • Bingbing Li,

    1. Department of Chemistry (0212), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
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  • Hervé Marand,

    1. Department of Chemistry (0212), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
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  • Alan R. Esker

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemistry (0212), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
    • Department of Chemistry (0212), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
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Abstract

Thermodynamic analyses of surface pressure-area (Π-A) isotherms and Brewster angle microscopy (BAM) reveal that poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) with a weight average molar mass of Mw = 10 kg mol−1 and polydispersity index of Mw/Mn = 1.25 and poly(t-butyl acrylate) (PtBA, Mw = 25.7 kg mol−1; Mw/Mn = 1.07) form compatible blends as Langmuir films below the dynamic collapse transition for PCL at Π = 11 mN m−1. For PCL-rich blends, in situ BAM studies reveal growth of PCL crystals for compression past the PCL collapse transition. PCL crystals grown in the plateau regime of the Π-A isotherm exhibit a dendritic morphology presumably resulting from the rejection of PtBA from the growing PCL crystals and hindered diffusion of PCL from the surrounding monolayer to the crystal growth fronts. The ability to transfer the PCL dendrites as Langmuir–Schaefer films onto silicon substrates spincoated with a polystyrene layer facilitates detailed morphological characterization by optical and atomic force microscopy (AFM). AFM reveals that the dendritic branching occurs along the {100} and {110} sector boundaries and is essentially independent of composition. AFM also reveals that the average thickness of PCL dendrites formed at room temperature (22.5 °C), ∼7–8 nm, is comparable with that of PCL crystals grown from single-component PCL Langmuir films and spincoated thin films. In contrast, for PtBA-rich blend films PCL crystallization is suppressed. These findings establish PCL blends as an ideal system for exploring the interplay between chain diffusion and crystal growth in a two-dimensional confined geometry. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 45: 3300–3318, 2007

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