In this paper we review molecular modeling investigations of polymer/layered-silicate intercalates, as model systems to explore polymers in nanoscopically confined spaces. The atomic-scale picture, as revealed by computer simulations, is presented in the context of salient results from a wide range of experimental techniques. This approach provides insights into how polymeric segmental dynamics are affected by severe geometric constraints. Focusing on intercalated systems, i.e. polystyrene (PS) in 2nm wide slit-pores and polyethylene-oxide (PEO) in 1 nm wide slit-pores, a very rich picture for the segmental dynamics is unveiled, despite the topological constraints imposed by the confining solid surfaces. On a local scale, intercalated polymers exhibit a very wide distribution of segmental relaxation times (ranging from ultra-fast to ultra-slow, over a wide range of temperatures). In both cases (PS and PEO), the segmental relaxations originate from the confinement-induced local density variations. Additionally, where there exist special interactions between the polymer and the confining surfaces (e.g., PEO) more molecular mechanisms are identified.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Chemistry
- General Materials Science
- Surfaces and Interfaces