Size-Dependent Submerging of Nanoparticles in Polymer Melts: Effect of Line Tension

Shanqiu Liu, Anupam Pandey, Joost Duvigneau* (Corresponding Author), Julius Vancso, Jacco H. Snoeijer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
139 Downloads (Pure)


Adhesion of nanoparticles to polymer films plays a key role in various polymer technologies. Here we report experiments that reveal how silica nanoparticles adhere to a viscoelastic PMMA film above the glass transition temperature. The polymer was swollen with CO2, closely matching the conditions of nanoparticle-nucleated polymer foaming. It is found that the degree by which the particles sink into the viscoelastic substrate is strongly size dependent and can even lead to complete engulfment for particles of diameter below 12 nm. These findings are explained quantitatively by a thermodynamic analysis, combining elasticity, capillary adhesion, and line tension. We argue that line tension, here proposed for the first time in elastic media, is responsible for the nanoparticle engulfment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2411-2417
Number of pages7
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2018


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