Andrew M. Jimenez, Dan Zhao, Kyle Misquitta, Jacques Jestin and Sanat K. Kumar
Understanding the structure and dynamics of the bound polymer layer (BL) that forms on favorably interacting nanoparticles (NPs) is critical to revealing the mechanisms responsible for material property enhancements in polymer nanocomposites (PNCs). Here we use small angle neutron scattering to probe the temporal persistence of this BL in the canonical case of poly(2-vinylpyridine) (P2VP) mixed with silica NPs at two representative temperatures. We have observed almost no long-term reorganization at 150 °C (∼Tg,P2VP + 50 °C), but a notable reduction in the BL thickness at 175 °C. We believe that this apparently strong temperature dependence arises from the polyvalency of the binding of a single P2VP chain to a NP. Thus, while the adsorption–desorption process of a single segment is an activated process that occurs over a broad temperature range, the cooperative nature of requiring multiple segments to desorb converts this into a process that occurs over a seemingly narrow temperature range.