Langmuir, Vol.36, No.49, 15181-15188, 2020
Neutron Reflectivity on the Mobile Surface and Immobile Interfacial Layers in the Poly(vinyl acetate) Adsorption Layer on a Si Substrate with Deuterated Toluene Vapor-Induced Swelling
We investigated the polymer chain dynamics in a 2-3 nm thick poly(vinyl acetate) (PVAc) adsorption layer on a Si substrate with a native oxide layer via neutron reflectometry combined with toluene vapor-induced swelling. We can investigate the polymer chain dynamics difference in the film thickness direction by the difference in the degree of swelling of the polymer layers detected by neutron reflectometry. The mobility of the polymer chains depends on the distance from the substrate. The results elucidated that the interfacial layer with a thickness of approximately 1 nm did not swell at all with toluene vapor, which is a solvent for PVAc. Meanwhile, the surface layer excessively swells with toluene vapor compared to the bulk. This indicates that the polymer chain within the interfacial region is immobilized by the substrate through hydrogen-bonding interaction, but in the surface region, the surface effect overcomes this interfacial interaction. We concluded that the polymer chains in the adsorption layer are either strongly constrained to the substrate, owing to hydrogen bonding, or more mobile than the bulk, owing to the surface effect.