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Effect of Relative Humidity on the Viscoelasticity of Thin Organic Films Studied by Contact Thermal Noise AFM.

08:00 EDT 9th April 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Effect of Relative Humidity on the Viscoelasticity of Thin Organic Films Studied by Contact Thermal Noise AFM."

Material scientist are in need of experimental techniques that facilitate a quantitative mechanical characterization of mesoscale materials and, therefore, their rational design. An example is that of thin organic films, as their performance often relates to their ability to withstand use without damage. The mechanical characterization of thin films has benefited from the emergence of the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). In this regard, it is of relevance that most soft materials are not elastic but viscoelastic instead. While most AFM operation modes and analysis procedures are suitable for elasticity studies, the use of AFM for quantitative viscoelastic characterizations is still a challenge. This is now an emerging topic due to recent developments in Contact Resonance AFM. The aim of this work was to further explore the potential of this technique by investigating its sensitivity to viscoelastic changes induced by environmental parameters, specifically humidity. Here we show that by means of this experimental approach it was possible to quantitatively monitor the influence of humidity on the viscoelasticity of two different thin and hydrophobic polyurethane coatings representative of those typically used to protect materials from processes like weathering and wear. The technique was sensitive even to the transition between the anti-plasticizing and plasticizing effects of ambient humidity. Moreover, we showed that this was possible without the need of externally exciting the AFM cantilever or the sample i.e., just by monitoring the Brownian motion of cantilevers, which significantly facilitates the implementation of this technique in any AFM setup.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids
ISSN: 1520-5827
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