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April 6th, 2005
Disentangling thin polymer films
Richard Jones: Many of the most characteristic properties of polymer materials like plastics come from the fact that their long chain molecules get tangled up. Entanglements between different polymer chains behave like knots, which make a polymer liquid behave like a solid over quite perceptible time scales, just like silly putty. The results of a new experiment show that when you make the polymer film very thin - thinner than an individual polymer molecule - the chains become less entangled with each other, with significant effects on their mechanical properties.
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