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Priestley-Led Team Demonstrates Ultrastable Polymer Glasses

A team led by Rodney D. Priestley, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, has demonstrated the formation of ultrastable glassy polymer films, as reported in the April issue of the journal Nature Materials.  Using a novel technique dubbed “Matrix Assisted Pulsed Laser Deposition” (MAPLE), the team deposited films of the common amorphous polymer PMMA (often known by the tradenames Plexiglas® or Lucite®), which show a glass transition temperature (softening point) some 70oF higher than PMMA ordinarily shows.  The difference is a consequence of the MAPLE deposition process, where each polymer chain is deposited as a distinct globule, within which the polymer segments pack efficiently.  Other senior team members included Craig Arnold from Princeton Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nan Yao from the Princeton  Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials, and George Fytas from the University of Crete, Greece.  For more information, those with library access may read the article, “Ultrastable nanostructured polymer glasses”, or the simultaneously-published News & Views commentary on this pioneering work, “From gas to nanoglobular glass”.