AFM Applications in Polymer Science and Engineering
- Modulus mapping of PS-PCL blend – Elastic modulus overlaid on topography for a polystyrene (PS)-polycaprolactone (PCL) blend. Imaged with Fast Force Mapping Mode on the MFP-3D Infinity AFM; scan size 4 µm. The 1024x1024 image size would be impractically slow to obtain with conventional force volume techniques. It provides superb lateral resolution, resolving features as small as approximately 10 nm. As expected from bulk literature values, PS regions (yellow) have higher modulus (approximately 3 GPa) than PCL regions (purple, approximately 350 MPa). The biodegradable nature of polycaprolactone is valuable in development of new bioblend materials.
- Read Whitepaper
The atomic force microscope (AFM) is a powerful tool for characterizing polymer materials. AFMs can contribute much more information about polymers besides simple topographic morphology, including probing molecular-level forces; mapping mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties; and assessing solvent and thermal effects in near real time.
This application note describes the many capabilities and advantages of Asylum Research Cypher and MFP-3D AFMs and the science behind the AFM applications for polymer characterization. Discussion will include scanning modes such as force spectroscopy, nanoindentation and thermal analysis (a technique for understanding processes of crystallization, melting and glass transitions).
The note will also review nanomechanical modes such as AM-FM and Contact Resonance Viscoelastic Mapping Modes. These modes measure the sample's viscoelastic response (loss modulus or loss tangent) in addition to its elastic response (storage modulus). This can be valuable information in many applications where the viscous properties of materials have a strong influence on practical considerations such as impact resistance and toughness.
The application note is ideal for both novices and veterans that want to learn more about the exciting developments in AFM polymer characterization.