|Title||Surface transport mechanisms in molecular glasses probed by the exposure of nano-particles|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2017|
|Authors||Ruan, S.G., D. Musumeci, W. Zhang, A. Gujral, M.D. Ediger, and L. Yu|
|Journal||Journal of Chemical Physics|
For a glass-forming liquid, the mechanism by which its surface contour evolves can change from bulk viscous flow at high temperatures to surface diffusion at low temperatures. We show that this mechanistic change can be conveniently detected by the exposure of nano-particles native in the material. Despite its high chemical purity, the often-studied molecular glass indomethacin contains low-concentration particles approximately 100 nm in size and 0.3% in volume fraction. Similar particles are present in polystyrene, another often-used model. In the surface-diffusion regime, particles are gradually exposed in regions vacated by host molecules, for example, the peak of a surface grating and the depletion zone near a surface crystal. In the viscous-flowregime, particle exposure is not observed. The surface contour around an exposed particle widens over time in a self-similar manner as 3 (Bt) 1/4, where B is a surface mobility constant and the same constant obtained by surface grating decay. This work suggests that in a binary system composed of slow-and fast-diffusing molecules, slow-diffusing molecules can be stranded in surface regions vacated by fast-diffusing molecules, effectively leading to phase separation.