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The existence of a transient period during the surface enrichment of a binary polymer blend by one of its components has been suggested by previous theoretical and experimental studies as well as computer simulations. Taking advantage of the high depth resolution of neutron reflectivity and the slow dynamics of polymers near their glass transition, we investigate this early-stage surface compositional enrichment in a phase separating polymer blend for the first time. Two stages of surface enrichment layer growth are observed. A rapid local surface enrichment at the chain segmental level occurs first, followed by a slower growth of a diffuse layer having a scale on the order of the bulk correlation length and the radius of gyration of the surface enriching polymer chains.
Date Posted: 20 December 2005
This document has been peer reviewed.