Journal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics

Small molecule diffusion in a rubbery polymer near Tg: Effects of probe size, shape, and flexibility

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A novel experimental approach involving fluorescence nonradiative energy transfer (NRET) is employed to study the Fickian diffusion of small molecules in rubbery poly(isobutyl methacrylate) (PiBMA) films near the glass transition, using a formalism that directly relates the small molecule translational diffusion coefficient, script D sign, to changes in the normalized nonradiative energy transfer efficiency, EN. Values of script D sign for pyrene, 1,3-bis-(1-pyrene) propane (BPP), 1,3-bis-(1-pyrene) decane (BPD), 9,10-bis-phenyl ethynyl anthracene (BPEA), diphenyl Disperse Red 4 (DPDR4), and decacyclene in PiBMA are measured over temperatures ranging from approximately Tg to Tg + 25°C. Among these chromophores, significant differences in both the magnitude and temperature dependence of script D sign are observed which are attributed to differences in molecule shape and flexibility, as well as molar volume. Other factors being equal, chromophore flexibility was shown both to increase the magnitude of script D sign and to decrease its dependence on temperature, as does an increase in aspect ratio. For BPD, these effects are attributed to the ability of the flexible molecule to diffuse in a piecewise manner, requiring the cooperative mobility of fewer polymer chain segments than a rigid molecule of the same molar volume. For BPEA and DPDR4, this deviation from script D sign being dominated by molar volume effects is attributed the to high aspect ratio of these elongated molecules. © 1996 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.