Critical Thickness of Free-Standing Nanothin Films Made of Melted Polyethylene Chains via Molecular Dynamics

JA Gonzalez-Mijangos and E Lima and R Guerra-Gonzalez and FI Ramirez- Zavaleta and JL Rivera, POLYMERS, 13, 3515 (2021).

DOI: 10.3390/polym13203515

The mechanical stability of nanothin free-standing films made of melted polyethylene chains was predicted via molecular dynamics simulations in the range of 373.15-673.15 K. The predicted critical thickness, tc, increased with the square of the temperature, T, with additional chains needed as T increased. From T = 373.15 K up to the thermal limit of stability for polyethylene, tc values were in the range of nanothin thicknesses (3.42-5.63 nm), which approximately corresponds to 44-55 chains per 100 nm(2). The density at the center of the layer and the interfacial properties studied (density profiles, interfacial thickness, and radius of gyration) showed independence from the film thickness at the same T. The polyethylene layer at its tc showed a lower melting T (< 373.15 K) than bulk polyethylene.

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