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Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Tom McLeish

Krawczyk, J., Croce, S., McLeish, T.C.B. & Chakrabarti, B. (2016). Elasticity dominated surface segregation of small molecules in polymer mixtures. Physical Review Letters 116(20): 208301.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

We study the phenomenon of migration of the small molecular weight component of a binary polymer mixture to the free surface using mean field and self-consistent field theories. By proposing a free energy functional that incorporates polymer-matrix elasticity explicitly, we compute the migrant volume fraction and show that it decreases significantly as the sample rigidity is increased. A wetting transition, observed for high values of the miscibility parameter can be prevented by increasing the matrix rigidity. Estimated values of the bulk modulus suggest that the effect should be observable experimentally for rubberlike materials. This provides a simple way of controlling surface migration in polymer mixtures and can play an important role in industrial formulations, where surface migration often leads to decreased product functionality.