MSUM Physics & Astronomy Seminar Series Presents:
Bending and Breaking Confined Polymers
Andrew B. Croll, Ph.D
Department of Physics, North Dakota State University
325 Hagen Hall
Polymeric materials have many interesting and useful properties that have lead to their ubiquitous use. Many of these properties are related to the fundamental physics of how these long chain molecules fill the space given to them. While much is known about polymers in a bulk setting, their properties can change dramatically if any of the material dimensions become small (for example in a nanometer thick film). Here we show how we can carefully examine the mechanics of polymer films in order to improve our understanding of what changes when films become thin. We will present the results of several short experimental studies conducted in our materials physics laboratory at NDSU. In particular, we will show some details of how a simple elastic instability (wrinkling) can and cannot be used, what happens if films become discrete rather than continuous and finally some details of what happens if films are forced to wrap a sphere.