We present a combined experimental and theoretical self-consistent field (SCF) investigation of the wetting behavior of a polystyrene melt (composed of chains with degree of polymerization P) on top of a polystyrene brush (composed of chains with length N) grafted onto a silica surface. The control variables are the grafting density of the brush chains and the length of mobile chains P. Experiments show in agreement with the theory that there is a window of complete wetting. Both at very low and at high grafting densities the system remains partial wet. At large degree of polymerization P, there is a difference between the experimental and theoretical results. Theory predicts partial wetting only, whereas the window of complete wetting persists in the experiments even when P >> N. This difference is attributed to the double-well structure of the disjoining pressure as revealed by the SCF theory. With this type of disjoining pressure it is conceivable that a metastable zero contact angle remains present for very long times.
- thin liquid-films
Maas, J. H., Leermakers, F. A. M., Fleer, G. J., & Cohen Stuart, M. A. (2003). When tethered chains meet free ones: the stability of polymer wetting films on polymer brushes. Macromolecular Symposia, 191(1), 69-79. https://doi.org/10.1002/masy.200390015