Professor, University of Waterloo, department of Physics and Astronomy, Canada
Ultrastable Polymer Glass
Glasses are extraordinary materials which have the rigidity of crystalline materials, but lack the long range order that crystals have. During glass formation, the characteristic times of the material increase dramatically. The result of this is that glasses invariably form a non-equilibrium material. The quest for near-equilibrium or even ideal glasses has been ongoing for many decades. The breakthrough of ultrastable glasses produced by physical vapour deposition has been perhaps the single most important experimental advance in the study of aged glasses. This process allows the production of glasses within a time span of less than an hour which are similar to those aged for thousands or even millions of years! Many different stable molecular glasses, and even stable metallic glasses have been formed by this method. We have developed a process where physical vapour deposition can be used to produce polymer stable glass, and apply this to polystyrene and poly (methyl methacrylate). I will present some of our recent studies including enhanced surface mobility in stable polymer glasses, and thin films of stable polymer glass.