Single-Molecule Studies of Heterogeneous Dynamics in Polymer Melts Near the Glass Transition

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Science  13 Apr 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5515, pp. 255-258
DOI: 10.1126/science.1056430

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Single-molecule spectroscopy was used to follow the orientation of a single probe molecule in a polymer film in real time. Broad spatially heterogeneous dynamics were observed on long time scales, which result from simple diffusive rotational motions on short time scales. This diffusive behavior persists for many rotations before the molecule's local environment changes to one characterized by a new time scale. This environmental exchange occurs instantaneously on the time scale of the experiment and may arise from large-scale collective motions. The distribution of exchange times for these environments was measured for several temperatures near the glass transition.

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