"rubbery Stiffening" and Rupture Behavior of Freely Standing Nanometric Thin PIB Films

Heedong Yoon, Gregory B. McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Prior bubble inflation studies have shown strong evidence of rubbery-like stiffening behaviors for several organic and inorganic thin films. The possible origin is still unclear, but recently Ngai et al. [ J. Polym. Sci., Part B: Polym. Phys. 2013, 51 (3), 214-224 ] and Li and McKenna [ Macromolecules 2015, 48 (17), 6329-6336 ] proposed that the separation of molecular motions and dynamic fragility are closely related to the observed rubber-like stiffening behavior. In the present work, we report observations from bubble inflation measurements on nanometric thin polyisobutylene (PIB) films that test the correlations suggested by the Ngai coupling model (stiffening is related to the shape parameter describing the α-relaxation) and Li and McKenna (the rubbery stiffening correlates with the dynamic fragility). Mechanical properties and surface tension of nanometric thin PIB films were investigated through strain-stress measurements for film thicknesses ranging from 13 to 126 nm. The tests were performed at room temperature far above the glass transition temperature of PIB. In addition to stiffness and surface tension, rupture strengths were also measured. We find that the stiffness increases with decreasing film thickness and that the surface tension remains constant, independent of the film thickness. The rupture stress is found to increase with decreasing film thickness, whereas the rupture strain decreases with decreasing film thickness. Similar to the prior bubble inflation measurements in polymeric thin films, the thickness dependence of the stiffening followed a power law behavior with film thickness. The observed stiffening behavior agrees with the suggestion from Ngai et al. that the rubbery stiffening should correlate with the separation of the α- and Rouse-mode relaxations. However, unlike prior results for ultrathin polymer films, the stiffening behavior of PIB did not follow the linear relationship with dynamic fragility that was proposed by Li and McKenna.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9821-9830
Number of pages10
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 26 2017


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