By means of sum-frequency generation spectroscopy, we report a depth-resolved measurement of the local conformation and chain relaxation of polystyrene (hPS) located at different distances from the quartz interface. To control the distance from the quartz interface, deuterated polystyrene (dPS) layers with thicknesses of 3.4, 7.5, and 20 nm were coated on the quartz substrates. The hPS chains in direct contact with the substrate surface predominantly orient their phenyl rings in a direction normal to the substrate. This conformation was found to be barely relaxed when the film was annealed for 24 h at 423 K, higher than the bulk glass transition temperature. In contrast, for the hPS chains supported on the dPS layer, the orientation of phenyl rings of hPS became weaker with the annealing and this trend was more significant with increasing distance from the quartz substrate. In particular, the orientation of phenyl rings of hPS after annealing vanished at a distance of 20 nm. These results might provide an important evidence of the difference in the relaxation dynamics of the PS chains located at different distances from the quartz interface.
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