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Sensitive thermal transitions of nanoscale polymer samples using the bimetallic effect: Application to ultra-thin polythiophene
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A sensitive nanocalorimetric technology based on microcantilever sensors is presented. The technology, which combines very short response times with very small sample consumption, uses the bimetallic effect to detect thermal transitions. Specifically, abrupt variations in the Young's modulus and the thermal expansion coefficient produced by temperature changes have been employed to detect thermodynamic transitions. The technology has been used to determine the glass transition of poly(3-thiophene methyl acetate), a soluble semiconducting polymer with different nanotechnological applications. The glass transition temperature determined using microcantilevers coated with ultra-thin films of mass = 10−13 g is 5.2 °C higher than that obtained using a conventional differential scanning calorimeter for bulk powder samples of mass = 5 × 10−3 g. Atomistic molecular dynamics simulations on models that represent the bulk powder and the ultra-thin films have been carried out to provide understanding and rationalization of this feature. Simulations indicate that the film-air interface plays a crucial role in films with very small thickness, affecting both the organization of the molecular chains and the response of the molecules against the temperature.
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