Using dynamic force microscopy, nanoscale mechanical heterogeneity in glassy polymer was characterized. The correlation length of heterogeneous viscoelasticity was measured to be ∼2.1 nm, consistent with the length scale of cooperatively rearranging regions at glass transition and is independent of molecular weight. Apparent energy dissipation with the variation of ∼57, originating from non-uniform distribution of local viscoelasticity, was revealed. The results provide definite experimental evidences on the nanoscale heterogeneity in glassy polymers and bear important insights in understanding the puzzling glass transition.
ASJC Scopus subject areas