Main content area

Three Regimes of Polymer Surface Dynamics under Crowded Conditions

Morrin, Gregory T., Schwartz, Daniel K.
Macromolecules 2018 v.51 no.3 pp. 1207-1214
adsorption, chemical interactions, diffusivity, liquid-solid interface, models, polyethylene glycol
Single-molecule tracking was used to characterize the mobility of poly(ethylene glycol) chains at a solid–liquid interface over a wide range of surface coverage. Trajectories exhibited intermittent motion consistent with a generalized continuous time random walk (CTRW) model, where strongly confined “waiting times” alternated with rapid flights. The presence of three characteristic regimes emerged as a function of surface coverage, based on an analysis of effective short-time diffusion coefficients, mean-squared displacement, and CTRW distributions. The dilute “site-blocking” regime exhibited increasing short-time diffusion, less confined behavior, and shorter waiting times with higher surface coverage, as anomalously strong adsorption sites were increasingly passivated. At intermediate values of surface coverage, the “crowding” regime was distinguished by the exact opposite trends (slower, more confined mobility), presumably due to increasing intermolecular interactions. The trends reversed yet again in the “brush” regime, where adsorbing molecules interacted weakly with a layer of extended overlapping chains.