Reduction of polymer surface tension by crystallized polymer nanoparticles
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Self-consistent field theory is applied to investigate the effects of crystallized polymer nanoparticles on polymer surface tension. It is predicted that the nanoparticles locate preferentially at the polymer surface and significantly reduce the surface tension, in agreement with experiment. In addition to the reduction of surface tension, the width of the polymer surface is found to narrow. The reduced width and surface tension are due to the smaller spatial extent of the nanoparticles compared to the polymer. This allows the interface to become less diffuse and so reduces the energies of interaction at the surface, which lowers the surface tension. The solubility of the surrounding solvent phase into the polymer melt is mostly unchanged, a very slight decrease being detectable. The solubility is constant because away from the interface, the system is homogeneous and the replacement of polymer with nanoparticles has little effect.